Preview: Ipswich v Owls
Portman Road, Ipswich
Saturday, August 11
At last, the football's back!
It doesn't seem so long since the Owls were finishing off their campaign against Norwich City at Hillsborough, but we're already back in action with a trip to Portman Road to open the 2007-08 campaign.
The Owls have good memories of Portman Road, not because of the victory there last season which marked Brian Laws' first game in charge of Wednesday, but because their opening day clash in 1990 saw the Owls dominate an Ipswich side en-route to promotion.
And Wednesday will be hoping to repeat that on Saturday as 2500 Owls fans make the long trip down to Ipswich as Brian Laws pits his wits against former Owl Jim Magilton.
Owls boss Brian Laws told the Yorkshire Post:
'We have brought players in and I believe we have players with the quality, the commitment, the desire, and the belief to do well in this league.
'We have been looking
to secure a top quality striker over the summer and we certainly have that now, going into the new season, which is a really big boost for Sheffield Wednesday.
'We have exciting players like Jermaine Johnson and Chris Brunt, who can do wonders with a football. We have signed Steve Watson, who is a great player with a great pedigree who knows how to win games and is great in the dressing room. We have quality that can hurt opposition teams and we will be very attack-minded.'
Ipswich boss Jim Magilton told the Sheffield Star:
'We have got to finish higher than last season, anything less will not do. A top 10 place is where I want to be and this is the aim.
'Our standards will never lessen, and on our day we can beat any side in the Coca-Cola Championship.
'I feel we can win at home, and it is important that we improve our form away from home.'
Ipswich Town Team News:
Town have been handed a huge pre-match boost with the news that key man Alan Lee will be fit and available for selection despite being involved in a car accident this week.
The Republic of Ireland frontman will join Pablo Couñago, who rejoined the club this summer, in attack as Jim Magilton's men look to have an improved season after last term.
But Town will be without midfielder Gavin Williams who has been ruled out for four months after damaging ankle ligaments in the recent 2-0 friendly victory over Panathinaikos.
But former Fulham midfielder Sylvain Legwinski could be drafted back in to replace Williams, after the Frenchman picked up an injury of his own back in March, but he could be available to partner former Owls target Tommy Miller in the Ipswich midfield.
Other injured players for Jim Magilton's men include Richard Naylor who is sidelined for three months while young hitman Dean Bowditch is also missing.
But Town will give a full debut to former Cardiff stopper Neil Alexander while former Owl Alex Bruce is also likely to start in the Town defence.
Player to watch: Alan Lee
The former Rotherham United man will be the key player for the hosts after recovering from a car accident this week and will provide a big presence in the Town attack.
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday will be sweating on the fitness of Deon Burton after the former Derby man was rested for the final friendly against Birmingham last weekend.
Burton had a niggling knee injury and Laws could stick with Marcus Tudgay in attack to partner former Town loanee and new Wednesday signing Francis Jeffers in attack.
Lee Grant is likely to get the nod in attack, while Frank Simek is set to return to his regular right-back slot, alongside Richard Wood, Lee Bullen and Peter Gilbert in the Wednesday defence.
New signing Steve Watson is set to get his first league run out since joining the Owls this summer alongside Glenn Whelan in midfield while Laws will be relying on the skills of wingers Jermaine Johnson and Chris Brunt.
Player to watch: Francis Jeffers
It just has to be doesn't it? Not only is the former Arsenal and Everton hitman filling the number nine shirt at S6 after months of trying, but he'll be returning to his former loan team where he notched four goals in seven appearances towards the end of last season.
Match Facts & Stats
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 2-0 Ipswich
Wednesday made it 2-0 for the second time in the season against Jim Magilton's men, as goals from Glenn Whelan and Steve Maclean after the break saw Wednesday maintain their late challenge for a play-off spot with a comfortable victory - over a team including Owls new boy Francis Jeffers.
Wednesday wins: 16
Ipswich wins: 12
16/08/07 - Rotherham United (A,Cup) - 7.45pm
19/08/07 - Wolves (H) - 1.30pm
25/08/07 - Charlton (A) - 3pm