Trips to the Reebok Stadium and Oakwell are looming on the horizon for Sheffield Wednesday - but Dave Jones troops should fancy their chances of returning to S6 with a healthy points return.
After the two-week international break, the winless Owls face Bolton Wanderers and Barnsley in an away double-header.
Wednesday, third-from-bottom in the second-tier of English football, have played one match less than Bolton and Barnsley, who are 19th and 24th respectively.
But what should give the Owls confidence is that two of their seven Championship triumphs on the road last season came in December at Bolton and Barnsley.
When Jones men ground out a 1-0 win at Oakwell through a close range strike from Chris O’Grady, the result ended a run of seven successive league defeats. It arguably proved a turning point in their season as the Owls won by the same scoreline in Lancashire on Boxing Day as beanpole forward Mamady Sidibe, on loan from Stoke City, claimed his solitary Owls goal.
“They were two good results and we had to work very hard to get them,” Jones told The Star. “But last season doesn’t mean anything now; it’s what we do now that counts.”
Victories over the Trotters and the Reds were sandwiched in between a fine home success over Charlton Athletic as Wednesday enjoyed a profitable Christmas period. In December, they picked up 10 points from a possible 18.
The club’s improved form coincided with the arrival of Stuart Gray as coach. Wednesday hired the vastly experienced Yorkshireman, who worked alongside Jones at Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers.