Sheffield Wednesday: Owls must break derby jinx to help Jones’ cause

Fit-again: Mamady Sidibe is in contention to start for the Owls.
Fit-again: Mamady Sidibe is in contention to start for the Owls.
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THERE is no hiding the fact Sheffield Wednesday’s record in Yorkshire derbies during the 2012/13 campaign has been nothing short of atrocious.

The Owls, second from bottom in the Championship, have picked up just one point from Hillsborough meetings with Huddersfield Town, Hull City and Leeds United while they were also lost at high-riding Middlesbrough.

And their preparations for their clash at 22nd-placed Barnsley this evening have been hampered by the bad weather and a sickness bug. Speaking to the press corps yesterday, boss Dave Jones admitted the team have had to change their training regime because of the frozen pitches at their Middlewood training ground.

Illness, not for the first time this season, has also affected the camp, with Martin Taylor, Daniel Jones and Chris Lines all missing sessions.

But Reda Johnson handed Jones a fitness boost by taking part in training at Hillsborough yesterday after a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Although the left-back is ahead of schedule, he is unlikely to feature at Oakwell.

Mamady Sidibe is pushing for a first-team recall after shaking off a hamstring problem which forced him off at Cardiff City. His loan deal runs out next week.

The Mali international, on a 28-day emergency loan deal from Stoke City, has failed to find the back of the net in three appearances since moving to Hillsborough.

Jones has also confirmed Jermaine Johnson (hamstring) and Chris O’Grady (foot) are fully fit and available for selection. He insists the mood in his squad remains positive despite their seven consecutive league defeats and is adamant he still has the backing of the supporters.

“Everybody wants us to do well,” he said. “We seem to have this mentality that if you are not doing well get rid. I have had nothing but goodwill (from people).

“Of course you are going to get people who are unhappy. They would be unhappy if we were winning. It is a tough time but the players are all in it together. The fans just want it to be right.”

Bad decision-making and lapses in concentration at both ends of the pitch have repeatedly cost Wednesday since they gained promotion. The pressure is mounting on Jones, with the side having recorded just two wins from their last 18 matches, to revive their flagging fortunes.

“Have I been through it (a run) like this before? Not to this extent,” he conceded. “But I have been through bad times.

“It makes me realise how good the good times are. I want that back and that is what I am trying to instill in the players.”

“We have put ourselves in this situation and we are the only ones who can get us out of it,” Jones added.

“We can’t leave anything in the dressing rom.”

Did You know? In the last seven matches, Wednesday have scored four times and shipped in 16. But Barnsley are also defensively vulnerable, having conceded nine in their last four outings.