VIDEO: Owls boss primed for vital period

This potentially could be a pivotal week in the context of Sheffield Wednesday's promotion aspirations.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 23rd February 2016, 11:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd February 2016, 11:35 am
Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

Slipping up at Preston North End dented their hopes of securing a top-six spot - but the busy Championship schedule gives them an opportunity to put things quickly right.

Tonight they take on Queens Park Rangers looking to stretch their unbeaten Hillsborough streak to 16 in all competitions.

Aiden McGeady

Given the Owls also face a trip to title-chasing Hull City on Friday night, head coach Carlos Carvalhal is acutely aware of the importance of meticulously managing his squad.

Carvalhal, who will assess Sam Hutchinson (knee) today, said: “The schedule is not new to me. I have gone through it in other countries like Portugal and Turkey. It is more easy in England than in other countries because I think the players are stronger mentally here.

“All the time they recover fast between the games. They have a strong mentality to push themselves to win the next games. I appreciate that.”

As Carvalhal was keen to stress in his press briefing yesterday, the positives have far outweighed the negatives this season. Wednesday made a sluggish start, winning just one of their opening seven fixtures, but that has been their only poor run of form.

Aiden McGeady

The Portuguese chief said: “We have had accidents, like all teams, but we have never had a period of three or four games.

“Our fans must be happy because they have never seen us go through a bad run.

“We have been one of the most consistent teams so far in the competition if you exclude the first seven games.

“We are in a good position. We are playing fantastic football. We play good, attractive football and score a lot of goals. People are enjoying our football. Five thousand six hundred fans followed us to Preston which shows they are happy with the team.”

Carvalhal, who is keeping tight-lipped over the possibility of entering the emergency loan market, is expecting a positive response from his players when they host 12th-placed QPR.

“Everybody has problems in their life and it is usually the people who react more fast that are the champions,” he said.

“They are the people who have this fast reaction in their blood. There are teams that need a long time to recover.

“But in the past, we have shown that all the times we have a problem, our group are fantastic and have a good and strong reaction.

“I’m sure we will give a good answer.”

Utility player Hutchinson remains an injury concern, having sat-out the last two matches due to a knee problem he suffered in their come-from-behind win over Birmingham City earlier this month.

“In the game at Birmingham, he received a very strong kick, which also opened up the knee,” said Carvalhal. “It’s a different situation to the past.

“We will see, but he’s training and in the short time, I don’t think we have any problem.

“Sam is playing a lot of games and playing very well and bringing a lot of energy to the team.”

Defensively the Owls are aiming to shore things up, having recorded just one shut-out in their last six matches.

Stand-in captain Tom Lees said: “We all want clean sheets. He [Carvalhal] was a defender in his time and he does like clean sheets.

“Every good team is built on a solid defensive line. But the team we are putting out this year is definitely more attacking so it does leave us a bit more open.

“We have got a lot of things we can improve on so we will be looking to tighten things up.”

Should he recover from a dead leg, Aiden McGeady is in line to make his first home start as Wednesday look to keep the pressure on the top-two.

“When you look at QPR’s squad, they have got players who can change a game in an instant,” said Lees. “But they are inconsistent for a reason.

“They have got things we can exploit but we won’t underestimate them.