Sheffield Wednesday: Owls star Keiren Westwood is relishing the fight for promotion

Keiren Westwood
Keiren Westwood

It’s crunch time in the Championship.

Sixth play first at Hillsborough tomorrow tea-time.

One club is aiming to cement their place in the play-offs, the other is pushing for the title.

Seventeen years have passed since both Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United dined at the top table of English football. While the Owls still have their work cut out to secure a top-six spot for the second year running, the Magpies are well on course to clinch automatic promotion.

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Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood told The Star: “The top six was the aim at the start of the season and that has not changed regardless of whether we have won or lost games.

Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood

“I saw Jordan [Rhodes] say in the press the other day that every game is like a cup final and he’s absolutely right.

“We have six games left. Anything can happen in this league. It’s the business end of the season and we need to make sure we pick up enough points to finish in the play-offs.”

A crowd in the region of 30,000 are set to cheer the Owls on at Hillsborough in front of the Sky cameras against Rafael Benitez’s side.

“Newcastle are a good side and have been in the top two for most of the season,” said Westwood.

Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher

“It’s going to be a tough game; there’s no doubt about that.

“I’m sure Newcastle won’t be letting up and will be looking to win the title. We have to get points ourselves so I’m sure it will be a cracking game like it was at their place.

“The games are coming thick and fast and we are looking forward to it.”

Four of Wednesday’s final six assignments are at home, starting with Newcastle, who are 10 points clear of third-placed Huddersfield Town.

Westwood said: “We have a lot of big games coming up but we are looking forward to it. i’m sure the fans will get right behind us. The onus will be on us to attack at home and I’m sure the manager will do his homework and pick a team he feels can get three points on Saturday.

“We will try to put in a good performance and get the win.”

Steven Fletcher was one of four alterations made by head coach Carlos Carvalhal in the Owls’ midweek success at Rotherham United and the experienced striker fully justified his inclusion by bagging a first half brace. It ended a three-month barren spell in front of goal for the 30-year-old.

“I was delighted for Fletch,” said Westwood. “He has probably been waiting for his opportunities and he took them against Rotherham.

“It was a good, solid away performance. We fully deserved the victory.

“It was disappointing to concede late on at Barnsley but we put that to the back of our minds and went to Rotherham and got the result.

“We were really up for Rotherham. We were very focused from the first minute we came into training on Monday and we were right at it from the get-go. The manager played an attack-minded side and thankfully it paid off. Rotherham got relegated on Saturday and you never know what that will do to a side. Sometimes that means the shackles come off.

“But their confidence is real low and we made sure we didn’t give them anything in the game.”

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Victory over the Millers lifted the Owls above Fulham, who they face on the final day of the season, into sixth place with six matches left.

Republic of Ireland international Westwood said: “We have to take each game as it comes.

“We know we have had a few iffy results recently. When we played Reading at home, their keeper had a great game against us.

“You try your hardest to win every game but you have to be realistic; you’re not going to win every game.

“Every game is different. The Rotherham home game was a real tight affair. I know we ended up winning in the last minute but the other night we scored two first half goals and saw the game out really well.

“It was good to get the bragging rights at Rotherham but we move on.

“I’m sure there will be a big crowd for Newcastle and it is another match we are looking forward to.”

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