VIDEO: Sheffield Wednesday old boy backs Owls to clinch top-six berth
Wednesday's supporters have been backed to play a major role in the team's push to secure a place in the Championship's top-six come the end of the season.
Carlos Carvalhal’s multi-cultural squad brushed aside 10-man Brentford on Saturday to extend their unbeaten league streak in 2016 to seven matches.
Victory helped the Owls leapfrog out-of-form Derby County into fifth position and kept them in the hunt for the automatic promotion slots.
Carvalhal’s men are the form side of the division and will be roared on by 5,500 fans at Preston North End this weekend.
Brentford boss and former Wednesday skipper Dean Smith told The Star: “I think they’ve got a really good chance of finishing in the top-six with the quality they have got.
“The fan base and support they have behind them only helps that.”
Wednesday’s array of attacking talent proved too much for the Bees to handle, with Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper and Lucas Joao all registering at Hillsborough.
Smith, who made 55 appearances for the Owls under Chris Turner over a decade ago, admitted: “They have spent some good money. They’ve got really good players going forward.”
The Bees chief praised Hooper’s performance. As well as notching his 10th goal in his last 11 appearances, the 28-year-old played a big part in the third, deftly heading down Barry Bannan’s pass into Kieran Lee’s path.
Smith is a big fan of the striker’s qualities, having worked with him when he was assistant manager at Leyton Orient nine years ago. Hooper spent three months on loan with the O’s.
“I had Hoops at Leyton Orient so I know how good he is anyway,” he said.
“He’s a great signing for Wednesday. He has been a regular goalscorer for them.
“I thought his movement was excellent. He has done the business north of the border and in the Premier League.”
However, he accused Hooper of “going down easily” when Yoann Barbetwas dismissed in the fifth minute.
“I don’t think Gary Hooper has the ball under control, and by the time he hits the ground the ball’s in my goalkeeper’s arms,” he said. “He’s had a big touch, probably felt the presence behind him and gone down easily.”
Smith described Brentford’s defending for Wednesday goals as “inexcusable”.
“We are conceding too many goals where they don’t have to work hard for them.
“They took a goal kick, ran through and scored - you don’t see that happening in our Youth Team.”
Owls Under-21s host Coventry City at Hillsborough today, kick-off 1pm. The fixture was scheduled to take place yesterday but was put back 24 hours due to the Sky Blues’ involvement in the FA Youth Cup. Marco Matias and Modou Sougou could feature.