Sheffield Wednesday: Focus on the defence as Owls gear up for Benfica test

Carlos Carvalhal
Carlos Carvalhal

Wednesday’s threadbare defence will come under the microscope when they welcome Portuguese champions Benfica to Hillsborough tonight, kick-off 7:30pm.

Carlos Carvalhal’s side will be looking to build on the encouraging performance they produced against Chesterfield last weekend.

At present, the Owls lack strength in depth at centre-back, with captain Glenn Loovens’ ankle injury adding to their woes. Sam Hutchinson is again likely to be deployed in that position alongside Tom Lees.

Left-back is another problem area for Carvalhal as Jeremy Helan is currently their only recognised left-sided player. In their two warm-up matches so far, it has been Helan and Liam Palmer who have played there.

Carvalhal expects his depleted backline to come under the cosh versus Benfica, who recently trounced the Owls’ Championship rivals Derby County 4-0 in a pre-season friendly.

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The head coach told The Star: “Benfica are one of the top sides in the world. They have got international players from Argentina, Brazil and all around the world. To go to Benfica, you have to be a top player.

“They played Derby the other day and beat them 4-0 and they are not complete yet. They are still receiving players.”

He added: “It’s a very important game for us. It will be a very good test to see our defensive organisation because Benfica will put us under a lot of pressure and in certain situations. We will make mistakes but will try to correct them.

“In pre-season, it is about correcting things when you have difficulties.

“In our last two games, the teams haven’t put us under much pressure in our defensive organisation.

“I’m not saying we will be defending all the time against Benfica but they are strong with and without the ball. They will be a threat to us all the time.”

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Keiren Westwood may not be involved following his international exertions with the Republic of Ireland over the summer. It is likely new addition Jake Kean will make his first appearance since arriving from Norwich City.

Carvalhal added: “The score is not important. It is all about the process.”

Forwards Gary Hooper and Steven Fletcher continue to receive treatment for injuries sustained last week. The duo both featured against Alfreton Town.

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