Sheffield Wednesday: Owls are looking up rather than down, says Daniel Pudil

Daniel Pudil

Daniel Pudil

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Full-back Daniel Pudil believes the Owls are well-equipped to sustain their promotion challenge after initially struggling this season to handle the weight of expectation.

The bookmakers installed Wednesday, who reached the Championship Play-Off Final last year, as one of the favourites to go up at the start of the campaign.

But Carlos Carvalhal’s charges made a slow start, picking up only one victory from their opening five league fixtures.

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The Owls’ performances and results, though, have gradually improved and the team welcome Queens Park Rangers to Hillsborough today seeking to consolidate their place in the top six.

“The challenge from the beginning of this season - especially after last year - was that people expect a little bit more,” said Pudil. “They push us, and we know we are under a little bit of pressure, trying to prove ourselves again.

“But we are in a good way now, in the top six, more points than last season and playing better football than last year.

“If we can win (against QPR) we can start to focus on the top two. We were under a little bit of pressure at the start of the season, but now things have settled down.

“The main pressure is on Newcastle, Aston Villa and Norwich. We are close to them but I don’t want to say we are going to win the league, or finish second or third. Let’s just focus on the next game. The season is still early.”

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Wednesday are sweating on the fitness of goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (back). Youngster Cameron Dawson is on standby.

Steven Fletcher is fit-again after missing the midweek trip to Cardiff City due to illness while Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri are also pushing for starts.

Pudil said: “I didn’t play against Blackburn, but in the last two away games we have been more solid at the back.

“The team is working really hard, standing next to each other, and that’s the key to winning games. We did well at Huddersfield; they tried to keep the ball, but I think we did well and didn’t give them any opportunities. That’s the key to bringing points back from away games.”

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