SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Pressure? You just can’t top it!

High hopes: Dave Jones welcomes Sheffield rivalry
High hopes: Dave Jones welcomes Sheffield rivalry
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DAVE Jones would rather be in United’s position than Wednesday’s but believes that there is pressure on both clubs ahead of the season’s climax.

He also says that the Owls have been inspired by their dramatic victory last Saturday which put them only one point behind the Blades.

“Being a point ahead is the best position because it’s in your hands,” he said.

“But there is pressure on both clubs, really.

“There is also pressure on the teams underneath us fighting for a play-off spot.

“We’re playing one of those (Brentford). We have a tough game as much as Sheffield United have. I think people are looking at them faltering (against Stevenage) and it’s an automatic win for us; it’s not. We have a tough one.”

“I hope our players thrive on the pressure. I’d rather have the pressure at the top of the table than at the other end.

“Only once in my career have I had to fight against relegation, and I know where I’d rather be.”

But Jones says that the Owls are not feeling the strain ahead of two vital games - just the opposite, if anything, after Michail Antonio’s winner agaimst Carlisle: “That’s the best way to win a match. The whole place was bouncing. You thrive on those sort of games and they give everybody a lift.

“Training in the last few days has been fantastic. That’s just from that game. They certainly earned the result last Saturday. The players need that sometimes, and you get it every so often in the season. We got it last Saturday

“There’a fantastic cameraderie around the place.

“We’re all in it together, the fans as well - I thought they were brilliant last Saturday.

“I always had a feeling that Carlisle would get a chance; they did, and they scored. But the fans were patient. They stayed with us and we got the result, and that’s why we had that sort of atmosphere at the end.”

Jones talks of a “tremendous atmosphere around

the place” and says it extends to club staff as well as including players and management: “When I arrived, it seemed as bit surpressed because of what had gone on before. That cloud seems to have been lifted now. Everybody seems to have a smile on their face and want to come in to work.“

Jones still hopes that both Sheffield clubs win promotion though he is revelling in the same sort of rivalry that he experienced in Wolves v West Brom and Cardiff v Swansea duels.

“I really do hope both clubs go up. It would be fantastic for the city. In terms of facilities, stadium and fan base, the clubs deserve to be up there - but you have to earn that right.

“I spoke to some United fans: they are just as nervous as ours. As well as all the rivalry, I think both sets of fans would like to be promoted.”

Jones refuses give his thoughts on what effect the absence of Ched Evans may have on the promotion scrap.

“It’s not for me to talk about anything like that,” he said. “All I’m concentrating on is what we have to do.

“In all my time as a manager, I have never interfered in what others do. My job is hard enough without worrying about that. I’ll take whatever help comes my way but I am focusing on us.”

Jones never rules out changes, even if the team have won the previous game. He will ponder his line-up again and still has Keith Treacy waiting for his first start, but Antonio is back in training after injury.

Mark Beevers joined in yesterday after an ankle niggle and looks sure to stay at left back, with Reda Johnson and Julian Bennett still out - “we’re probably looking at next week for them,” said Jones.

Teams and ref

BEES (possible): Moore, Logan, Osborne, Dean, Bidwell, Diagouraga, Douglas, Bean, Forrester, Donaldson, Saunders (4-3-3).

OWLS (possible): Bywater, Buxton, Batth, Llera, Beevers, Antonio, Semedo, Lines, J Johnson, Madine, Ranger (4-4-2).

Chris Sarginson (Staffs): Sent off Gary Megson near the end of the Owls’ 2-1 win at Wycombe in October. Megson believed he was penalised for swearing, repeatedly leaving the technical area and getting annoyed when Rob Jones had to go off the pitch for attention to a cut and a change of shirt. The FA deemed his dismissal sufficient punishment.

One to watch

Attacking midfield player Sam Saunders is a free-kick specialist and has a career-best tally of 12 goals - a Bees total beaten only by striker Gary Alexander, who was on 14 before he left for Crawley. Clinton Morrison was signed on loan from the Owls to replace him.

History lesson

Brentford have marginally the better record in league and cup meetings between the clubs, with nine wins. Wednesday have won eight and there have been 12 draws.