Defeating Fulham on the final day of the regular league season can give Sheffield Wednesday a big psychological advantage for the Championship play-offs.
That is opinion of versatile Owls star Adam Reach as Carlos Carvalhal’s side begin their preparations for the end-of-season shootout.
There is a possibility Wednesday could meet Fulham in the play-offs. Should Carvalhal’s men claim a seventh straight league win for the first time since 1993 this weekend and Reading draw or lose at Burton Albion, the Owls will finish in third position.
Reading, Huddersfield Town and Wednesday have guaranteed their places in the play-offs and Fulham are almost certain to complete the quartet. Only a loss at Hillsborough and a Leeds United win at relegated Wigan Athletic, along with a 13-goal swing, would see the Cottagers fall out of the play-off positions.
Whatever happens on Sunday, Fulham can’t finish higher than sixth. Third will play sixth the semi-finals, with the first leg to be staged on Saturday, May 13, kick-off 5:30pm. If the Owls and Cottagers avoid each other in the semis, they could still face one another in the final at Wembley on Monday, May 29.
When asked if a victory over Fulham can give Wednesday a psychological edge, Reach told The Star: “Of course it would. A win always gives you confidence.
“We are confident we have got enough to beat anyone in the play-offs. If we can get a win against Fulham and we do meet them later on in the semi-finals or final, it will give us that little bit of extra confidence.”
Finishing third or fourth would ensure the Owls play at home in the second leg of the play-off semi-finals.
“I don’t mind whether we play at home in the first or second leg,” said Reach, who arrived from Middlesbrough last August. “Hillsborough will be rocking either way.
“We are just happy that we are in the play-offs.
“We will enjoy Sunday and see who we get. We know we have the quality throughout the squad to get through.
“We just have to keep working hard and carry on focusing on ourselves.”
Momentum is on the Owls’ side. The team secured their place in the top-six for the second year running after a hard-earned victory at Ipswich Town last weekend.
The result extended their unbeaten run to seven outings.
The Owls will be backed by a sell-out crowd at S6 against Fulham but Carvalhal may rest some of his senior stars with one eye on the play-offs.
Reach said: “I don’t know what team the manager will put out but, with our squad, we will go into it wanting to win the game.
“We want to make it seven wins in a row and eight unbeaten. We also want to beat Fulham for confidence just in case we meet them later on in the play-offs. We want to cause them problems.”
Despite their poor run of form in March, left-sided player Reach says he and his teammates always believed Wednesday would be involved in the promotion shake-up.
“Nobody ever doubted we would get into the play-offs,” he said. “When you look around in our changing room, we have so much experience.
“We have a lot of guys who have experienced the play-offs, have promotions under their belts and won leagues.
“Everybody has got each other’s backs and we have the talent to win games.”
When asked how the Owls have turned around their fortunes, Reach said: “The starting eleven hasn’t changed too much. The lads have got into nice rhythm. When the substitutes have come on, they have been hungry to get goals and contribute.
“You don’t get promoted with just 11 players. You get promoted with 23 or 24. Every player in the squad has played a big part.
“We knew we were capable of going on a winning run. We are delighted to make it six in a row and seven unbeaten.
“We were always confident in the changing room we would have a consistent spell. Although we were off the pace half a dozen games ago, we knew we had enough in that locker room to get the wins we needed.”