Sheffield Wednesday: Uncharted territory for Owls boss

Carlos Carvalhal, left, and chairman Dejphon ChansiriCarlos Carvalhal, left, and chairman Dejphon Chansiri
Carlos Carvalhal, left, and chairman Dejphon Chansiri
He has plenty of experience of big occasions, but Owls chief Carlos Carvalhal is ready to embark on something new under the lights at Hillsborough later this week.

When Wednesday entertain Brighton and Hove Albion in the first leg of their Play-Off Semi-Final on Friday, kick-off 7:45pm, it will be Carvalhal’s first ever taste of the Play-Offs.

The 50-year-old, who has mainly coached in his native Portugal with brief spells in Greece and Turkey, is relishing the prospect of leading Wednesday into battle.

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“I have played in cup finals, but never the Play-Offs,” Carvalhal told The Star.

“I have been in three finals in my career, and this is a similar situation.

“Also, I have managed in lot of games in the Europa League competition. It’s nothing new.”

Carvalhal, a centre-back during his playing days, is pleased to kick off their Play-Off campaign on home soil. Owls officials are expecting a crowd of close to 34,000 to cheer Carvalhal’s men on.

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The second leg of the tie will take place at the Amex Stadium on Monday, May 16.

“I am happy to play home first, I am happy to play in front of our fans,” said Carvalhal.

“Our team is not an easy team for the opponents in our home all season.

“We’ll be ready on Friday to do a good match.”

As far as Carvalhal is concerned, the Owls go into the end-of-season shootout as rank outsiders for promotion.

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Wednesday finished the regular Championship campaign in sixth position, a whopping 15 points behind the third-placed Seagulls.

Carvalhal, who made 10 changes to his starting line-up in Saturday’s loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers, said: “Brighton will be a strong opponent, like all of the teams in the Play-Offs, but each of the four teams has a 25 per cent chance.

“We have drawn against them both times this season in balanced games and we understand we are playing a top team but I think we are a better team now than in the past.

“We will be underdogs but that can be a positive for us.”

Atdhe Nuhiu is an injury concern ahead of one of the biggest matches in Wednesday’s recent history.

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The giant striker limped off against Wolves after sustaining a knee problem. He was replaced by academy graduate Jack Stobbs.

But Ross Wallace, chasing a hat-trick of promotions out of the second-tier, will be pushing for a first-team return after completing his three-match suspension for his red against MK Dons.

And it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Carvalhal could call upon Sam Hutchinson’s services in midfield.

The ex-Chelsea youngster, an unused substitute against Cardiff City, has not featured since March 19 because of a bout of glandular fever. In recent weeks, Hutchinson has taken part in full training.