Sheffield Wednesday: Owls bank on experience in Play-Offs

Carlos CarvalhalCarlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal says Sheffield Wednesday's experienced players will be crucial to their Championship play-off campaign.

After finishing sixth in the regular season, the Owls are three matches away from ending their 16-year top-flight exile.

Carvalhal’s men host Brighton and Hove Albion in the first leg of the play-off semi-final on Friday.

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Several members of Carvalhal’s first-team squad already have promotions on their CVs, including Fernando Forestieri, Daniel Pudil, Ross Wallace, Barry Bannan and Gary Hooper, and the Portuguese head coach is counting on them to hold their nerve in the run-in.

Carvalhal said: “A lot of our players have been promoted in the past so they have been in these situations before.

“I remember Ross Wallace, Daniel Pudil and Fernando Forestieri. There are probably more. Experience is very important.”

Carvalhal refused to be drawn on whether Wednesday have the psychological edge ahead of their two-legged affair with Brighton. Chris Hughton’s side drew 1-1 with Middlesbrough in their promotion decider last weekend, meaning Boro pipped the Sussex outfit to second spot on goal difference.

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However, Brighton can take encouragement from the fact that they have lost just one of their last 20 outings.

Carvalhal said “I don’t know what happened in the house of my neighbours, but I know what’s happening in mine. We are feeling positive, training very well and are fresh.

“We are mentally and physically ready. We will play against a strong team but we are better now than we were in the past.”

Much has been said about the fact Wednesday have not beaten any of the top five teams, home or away, this term, but Carvalhal claims that will count for nothing in the end-of-season lottery.

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“We have been outsiders since the beginning for the play-offs but will be dangerous for our opponents,” stressed the ex-Sporting Lisbon chief, who hopes big centre-forward Atdhe Nuhiu will shake off a knee injury he picked up in Saturday’s loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Meanwhile, more than 1,400 Wednesdayites have snapped up tickets for the second leg, which will take place at the Amex Stadium on Monday, May 16. The Owls are expecting their 2,047 ticket allocation to sell-out today.