Influential Owls midfielder Jose Semedo will be walking a disciplinary tightrope at Hillsborough tonight.
The stand-in Wednesday captain will take to the field against Blackburn Rovers knowing he is one yellow card away from triggering a two-match suspension.
The 30-year-old picked up his ninth caution of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough after a second half scuffle with Lee Tomlin. Any player who collects 10 bookings by the second Sunday in April has to sit-out two matches.
Although Semedo is edging closer to a ban, head coach Stuart Gray has told the Portuguese ace to not curb his combative style of play as the Owls chase a third straight Championship victory.
He told The Star: “Semi is such an honest, hard-working lad; he has just got to play his normal game.
“If Semi goes into a game half-heartedly, that’s not the player we want on the pitch. If he gets booked, he will serve a two-match ban and we will have to deal with it.”
Gray is encouraged by the partnership Semedo and Lewis McGugan have formed in the middle of the park.
“Football is all about combinations,” he said. “Semi has allowed Lewis [McGugan] to get forward safe in the knowledge that he’s got someone in Semi who is reliable and willing to do the dirty work for him.
“They compliment each other very well.”
Forty eight hours ago, Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka said they would consider taking action over an alleged incident involving Semedo and Grant Leadbitter. The two players squared up to each other prior to Semedo’s booking and there have been claims he spat at Leadbitter.
Gray said referee Steve Martin had not included the alleged spitting incident in his match report. Nonetheless, Middlesbrough could still lodge a formal complaint to the Football Association.
Gray, meanwhile, has no new injuries to contend with and could name an unchanged starting line-up as they look to complete the double over Rovers.
Confidence is high in the camp after back-to-back victories, according to the Wednesday chief.
But Gray, who introduced new owner Dejphon Chansiri to his first-team squad yesterday, has warned his players not to take Blackburn lightly.
“They are a difficult side to play against,” he said. “But the boys are buoyant after two good performances and results.
“It’s nice to have that feeling of winning games again and I’m pleased we have scored seven goals in the last three games.
“We also kept a good clean sheet against a strong Boro side and we’ve got to try and build on that result.”
Rovers main attacking threats are strikers Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes, who have bagged 27 goals between them this season.
Gray said: “We have to stop the supply to them and crosses coming into the box because we know Gestede and Jordan come alive in the box.
“Gestede is a handful in the air and Jordan scores all types of goals.
“We need to starve them of service and make sure we put in the same effort and commitment we showed against Middlesbrough.”
Winger Ben Marshall, who spent time on loan at Wednesday during the 2011/12 season, scoring five goals in 22 starts, is another player Gray’s backline need to keep in check if they are to record an 18th shut-out. He was linked with an Owls return last August.
“I worked with Ben [Marshall] at Northampton; he’s a talented boy who can run with the ball and put a good cross in,” he said. “We’ve got to keep him quiet.
“Ben is coming back to one of his old stamping grounds and I’msure he will get a good reception.”
Gray is adamant Wednesday can still figure in the promotion race, as long as they maintain their current good form.
“We want to get up this league and go as far as we can,” he said.