Sheffield Wednesday: Owls aim to please home fans

Danny Pugh could stay at left back against Palace
Danny Pugh could stay at left back against Palace

Dave Jones hopes to reward the Owls’ “fantastic” fans by bringing Hillsborough form more into line with away results.

He believes that the team need to capitalise on Hillsborough advantage - certainly in the next two games when they play Crystal Palace and Forest.

“The fans have been absolutely fantastic,” he said. “They come in their droves week in, week out, home or away, which is great for us, and they are reaping the rewards for the support they have given us.

“They’ve always given us good support. The more that come, the better it is for us, because it’s a great feeling for a player to be playing in front of big crowds, and we certainly get that.

“It would be nice to get home form up to our away form,” said Jones. “Our fans have been outstanding; we want more to come. The more that come, hopefully the better the show we’ll put on.

“We’ll never taken as many away as we get at home - that’s where our biggest contigent is; we have to please them.

“There’s also a big demand on the players when we go away, because we’ll take thousands with us.

“There’s pressure on the players to do well, and there’s pressure hopefully on the supporters to keep coming.”

The team have taken 14 points from their last six trips, but only eight points from their last six home games.

Other statistics are more pleasing: only one defeat in the last 11 league matches (2-0 at home to Burnley), unbeaten in the last six overall, and unbeaten in the last six away games.

Tomorrow the Owls are also bidding to avenge a 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace.

Anthony Gardner missed that game against his old club because of injury and could sit out tomorrow’s as well because of his thigh injury, but Jones will have no qualms about fielding Martin Taylor again after his performance in the draw at Birmingham.

Jones must check on several players, including Giles Coke, who went off with an injury niggle near the end of the St Andrew’s game - a different though unspecified snag after a hip problem had been bothering him.

That came on top of his travels up and down the motorway, with his wife in hospital in London and due to give birth.

Jones said: “He’d missed training for a week. He and Pruts (David Prutton) were outstanding at Birmingham; Giles ran himself into the ground, and that’s where he picked up a little niggle.”

If Coke does not make it for tomorrow, then Rhys McCabe, who replaced him in the 80th minute, seems the obvious one to come in.

Reda Johnson is back “doing some running”, added the Owls boss, who hopes that everybody will be fit.

But he could opt to stick with Danny Pugh and Lewis Buxton as the full backs to combat dangerous wide men Wilfried Zaha, who plays on the right, and Yannick Bolasie, who on the other flank starred in the Owls’ defeat at Palace.

If Johnson was to come in for Pugh at left back, then the loan signing would be a midfield option, especially if Coke was out.

Zaha has recently been signed by Manchester United for £15m but is staying with the Eagles on loan for the rest of the season.

Jones added: “You can’t worry and one or two people in a team; if you get bogged down doing that, somebody else will crop up.

“Every week we have to see how we can nullify the other team’s strengths, but we have to be careful with that, because the majority of the time we are trying to make teams worry about what we’ve got.

“Palace have good players; one has just been bought for £15m; of course he’s potentially a very good player; we’ll be aware of that.

“They’re a good team but they’ll be aware of everybody we’ve got.

“After we played them they went on a fantastic run and looked as if they were going to run away with it at one stage; this division claws you back somewhere along the way.”

Meanwhile, Tranmere’s signing of former Owls loan striker Mamady Sidibe on loan from Stoke for the rest of the season will probably rule out any prospect of the League One promotion hopefuls reviving their interest in Gary Madine.

Jones has underlined the fact that he values Madine as a squad member and he is staying:

“Gary doesn’t need to go out. He can stay here learning his trade. He came on the other day and looked strong and quite sharp, and we know we have a player in the camp who when needed is ready to go in.”

Connor Wickham is set for a full home debut up front alongside Leroy Lita.