Boss Carlos Carvalhal says the Championship fixture schedule has left Sheffield Wednesday at a “disadvantage” going into today’s clash at Reading.
Both the Royals and Owls were in action in midweek. While Reading battled back from two goals to draw away to Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night, Carvalhal’s team played 24 hours later at Ipswich Town.
Wednesday’s visit to Portman Road was originally set to be played on the Tuesday but was later moved after being selected for television coverage.
Carvalhal said: “We have a disadvantage because we played on Wednesday and they (Reading) played on Tuesday night. They have one more day to recover than us. “In three (days) it makes a difference, four is completely different. Three to four is too much.”
Despite their stunning late fightback at the Macron Stadium, Reading are languishing in the lower reaches of the table after collecting only 19 points from 17 matches.
The Royals and Fulham, who qualified for the play-offs last year, are lying in the bottom half of the division while the Owls, beaten by eventual winners Huddersfield in the semi-finals, are currently 11th. Carvalhal thinks it is no coincidence all the play-off losers have made stuttering starts after missing out on promotion.
“Reading achieved the play-offs and the final last season but so far they have not been up to that same level,” acknowledged Carvalhal, who could hand first-team recalls to Liam Palmer, Joost van Aken, Kieran Lee and Steven Fletcher after a busy period. “They have been more solid in the last few games and achieved points.
“It will be a tough game. Reading like to keep the ball. They have good players, a good team and the same coach.
“The teams that were in the play-offs last season; Reading and Fulham, are not in a good position. We are a little better than them. This may be because the expectation level goes up after you get to the play-offs. In the next season, things are different. There are more negatives around the team. It is not easy to put teams up.
“This is a hard competition for hard strong, resilient personalities. Only the strong teams will achieve a good position at the end and we believe we will.”
The Owls boss claims his players underlined their mental toughness by twice coming from behind to seal a point at Ipswich.
Carvalhal said: “I don’t agree that our team mentality is not strong. If it is not strong, we wouldn’t have achieved a point at Ipswich. We kept believing to the end and we achieved the goal. The negative was some players under-performed.”