Date:Friday January 20 2006
The Owls are on track to win their third consecutive game, but face tough opponents in the form of Yorkshire rivals Leeds United at Elland Road - who are fighting for different reasons at the other end of the Championship table...
Paul Sturrock told the official SWFC site:
''Since they changed their system they've been winning lot's of football games. We've got to handle what they've adapted to but if we can go and be as thoughtful as we were at Preston and Burnley I'm confident we'll get something out of it.''
Striker Rob Hulse will be the biggest loss for Leeds after being ruled out through suspension. It's likely that manager Kevin Blackwell will stick with the same strike partnership that started for their defeat at Brighton last weekend - ex-Owl Richard Cresswell and Robbie Blake. Northern Ireland international David Healy is also another option for the Whites.
Recent signing Joel Griffiths is unlikely to receive international clearance in time to play at the weekend. Highly-rated Australian Griffiths was signed this week and hoped to play a part in the Yorkshire derby, but the clearance from Australia is taking longer than first though. Liam Miller has impressed while on loan from Manchester United (it's not often that a Manchester United player impresses Leeds fans!) and he is likely to take his midfield role alongside Shaun Derry.
Miller did pick up a slight hamstring injury during the midweek cup match with Wigan, and will undergo a late fitness test but is expected to be fit for the match. Defender Matthew Kilgannon finished the midweek match but hobbled out of Elland Road on crutches, and winger Eddie Lewis also picked up a knock.
Eirik Bakke has been re-called from his successful loan spell with midlands club Aston Villa, but is unlikely to feature after picking up a slight hamstring injury at Villa Park. His loan deal with Villa is still running, so would be unable to take part anyway.
Blake moved to Leeds last summer for a fee of £800,000 and despite a slow start, he's beginning to make a big impact of the Leeds faithful, keeping former Elland Road favourite David Healy on the bench. Blake has scored seven times for the Whites in 20 appearances, and his brilliant first touch and dribbling abilities are sure to test the Wednesday defence to the full.
Owls boss Paul Sturrock has the rare chance to stick with last week's side that beat Leicester City, after no new injuries were picked up.
In fact Sturrock may be spoilt for choice in the goalkeeper area. Nicky Weaver has been playing well between the sticks, but Owls number one David Lucas has returned to full fitness ahead of the Yorkshire Derby. Sturrock is likely to stick with Weaver though, as it's the Manchester City stoppers final game on loan with the Owls. The defence also seems settled with Weaver after so many games, and will have to adapt back to playing in front of Lucas in the coming weeks.
The only minor doubt comes in the form of midfielder Glenn Whelen, who suffered a dead leg in the Leicester match. The Irish under-21 international battled through the pain barrier at the weekend, and sat out a few days training earlier this week. He'll undergo a late fitness test, but Paul Sturrock expects him to be fit and available for the trip up the M1.
Strikers Steven Maclean and Drew Talbot are both hoping for places on the bench after not featuring for the Owls this season with injuries. Paul Sturrock has said he will not risk the hotshots though, and would rather Maclean was available for the rest of the season rather than just the Leeds match, and then suffer another six weeks out on the sidelines.
Jon-Paul McGovern is another player who's been out injured for a long period, but he is unlikely to feature in the Leeds game. McGovern is thought to be available for the Owls in the next two weeks.
After his superb goal last week against Leicester City, Northern-Ireland international Brunt will be the one that Kevin Blackwell fears most in the Owls side. He can create goals out of nothing, and has a lethal left foot from set pieces and free-kicks. Paul Sturrock once said that he can either turn up as David Beckham, or his wife Victoria - so let's hope he turns up as Mr Beckham!
LUFC Wins: 32
SWFC Wins: 28
Last Time Out:
13th September 2005
Wednesday 1-0 Leeds
A Chris Eagles goal was enough to secure the first win of the season for Wednesday. Despite second half pressure from the visitors, they never really looked like scoring, and it was a well deserved three points for the Owls. Hopefully it can be the same this time around!
Played For Both:
Eric Cantona (Trial for the Owls)
Vs Luton Town (H) - 31/01/06
Vs Millwall (A) - 04/02/06
Vs Crystal Palace (H) - 11/02/06
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Date:Friday January 20 2006
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