Date:Friday August 4 2006
It doesn't seem like two minutes since the Owls final day victory over Derby County last season, but after a certain amount of winking, red cards, diving, and underperforming in this summer's World Cup, the new Championship season is among us as Paul Sturrock's new-look Wednesday side travel to Deepdale to taken on Preston North End.
This time last year the Owls gaffer's aim was to avoid relegation in the Owls first season back in the Championship. Sturrock sees progression as a process that will take years rather than months, and will hope for a stronger finish to the season - with mid-table a real possibility, injury permitting.
Preston on the other hand may struggle to recapture the form that has seen them finish consistently high in the Championship table, only to be heartbroken in the play-offs. The loss of Billy Davies and a number of key players doesn't help, but main man David Nugent is still present - for now.
North End have a mini-crisis in defence after learning that star-man Youl Mawene will be out of action after tearing his cruciate and medial ligaments in a freak accident during PNE's 2-1 victory over Manchester United in their final pre-season friendly. Liam Chilvers and Kelvin Wilson are both standing-by for a call-up.
Experienced left-back Callum Davidson will be missing through picking up a knee injury, as will the highly rated Brian O'Neil. Joe Anyinsah will be out with a thigh injury while former Owls target Adam Nowland and Brett Ormerod are both long term casualties with a broken leg.
Some are surprised to see the highly-rated striker remain at Deepdale after so many of his colleagues left during the summer to pastures new. The former Bury man is Premiership class and is one of the best strikers in the Championship, so will be a lot to handle for Madjid Bougherra and Graham Coughlan at the centre of defence.
Where do I start?
Loanee Brad Jones is set to start in goal after Owls boss Paul Sturrock finally completed the signing of a new number one on Thursday night. The Boro' goalkeeper will go straight in to the side despite only having a day to train with his new team mates.
Left-back John Hills will undergo a late fitness test after recovering from injury. Youngster Tommy Spurr is on stand-by should the former Gillingham man lose his fight for fitness after the trainee put in some solid performances during the pre-season.
The main worry for the Owls is in attack with the recent bad news that Deon Burton will join Marcus Tudgay, Drew Talbot and Barry Corr on the list of injured strikers. Steve Maclean is the only fit striker and has been out of training with toothache. It's likely Maclean will play alone upfront with Kenny Lunt supporting him from midfield. Lee Bullen is also another option for Paul Sturrock in attack.
New signing Wade Small will also face a late fitness test after picking up an injury after arriving at S6 from MK Dons this summer. Small has been training all week and is likely to make the bench, with either Lee Bullen on the right-hand side, or Burton O'Brien swithcing sides with Chris Brunt.
Without the Northern Irish internationals spectacular goals last season, the Owls may have struggled to win key games in the battle aqgainst the drop. Brunt will need to pull another cracker out of the bag for the Owls to get anything out of the game, with the attacking options so weak.
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 2-0 PNE
18/03/2006 - Hillsborough
After a 0-0 bore draw at Deepdale earlier in the season the Owls continued their good form against the Lancashire side by recording a comfortable 2-0 victory over Billy Davies' side. In the thick of the relegation battle goals from Deon Burton and Burton O'Brien were enough to give Wednesday a vital three points.
PNE wins: 37
SWFC wins: 36
Wednesday: Adamson; Simek, Coughlan, Bougherra, Spurr (Hills 73); Bullen, Folly (McAllister 49), O'Brien (Whelan 45), Brunt; Lunt (MacLean 45); Burton
Subs Not Used: O'Donnell, Boden, McClements
Preston: Nash (Lonergan 64), Alexander, Hill (Neal 78), St Ledger, Mawene (Chilvers 71), Jarrett (McCormack 78), Whaley (sedgwick 64), McKenna, Dichio (Stock 46), Nugent (Agyemang 65), Pugh
Subs Not Used: Chilvers, Lonergan, Sedgwick, Agyemang, Neal, McCormack, Wilson, Stock
-Taken from www.bet365.com-
PNE win: 8/11
SWFC win: 9/4
Barnsley v Cardiff City
Birmingham City v Colchester United
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Ipswich Town v Crystal Palace
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Derby County v. Southampton - 4:00pm
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Date:Friday August 4 2006
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