Owls striving for patience

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It’s all the Ps for Sheffield Wednesday’s home game with Preston. . . possession, poise and perhaps above all, patience.

Dave Jones’ side should have plenty of the first and their runaway form suggests they won’t lack in the second department either.

But Preston have a way of playing under Graham Westley that can test the patience of opposing players and rival fans in equal measure. It could amount to that other P - for pressure, in both senses of the word - if the Owls don’t achieve the early breakthrough that can be so vital in games of this sort.

As anybody who witnessed Preston’s recent 2-1 defeat at Bramall Lane will attest, they appear to have adopted the most primitive form of the long-ball game.

Whereas Watford, Wimbledon and then Sheffield United under Dave Bassett always had raiding wingers underpinning a direct style, Westley has tended to place any attacking onus on one central striker. And while it might not be fair to judge on one game, Preston’s current sequence of results suggests the impressions gained that day are fairly accurate - of a compact, combative side who get men behind the ball and are set up to grind out results.

Since the rarity of a 3-0 defeat at Colchester, they have conceded only seven goals in seven games.

So North End’s likely approach at Hillsborough - which, in fairness, served Westley well at Stevenage - leaves little to the imagination.

Throw in the fact that the Owls are kicking off earlier than the Blades - only a pressure edge if they win - and a purposeful start to the game becomes paramount. But Jones seems equipped in all areas to pass this latest test. There is attacking power to add with deadline loanees Keith Treacy and Nile Ranger.

The abundance of choice prompted the new boss to make four changes for last week’s win at Leyton Orient, a result that kept Wednesday firmly in contention for second place.