Bullen’s bullish about Wednesday’s chances at Leicester

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Coach Lee Bullen insists that Sheffield Wednesday will show no fear when they go up against Championship leaders Leicester tomorrow night.

The Owls, who have won five and lost five of their previous ten league games, travel to the King Power Stadium hoping to halt Leicester’s runaway title charge, which has seen them move seven points clear of second-placed Burnley - and a massive 16 ahead of Queens Park Rangers, who are third.

The Foxes, managed by former Wednesday hero Nigel Pearson, are unbeaten in 15 games and have tasted defeat just once in 20.

But they did lose against Wednesday at Hillsborough back in December, as a Connor Wickham double helped the Owls to a 2-1 win.

And, after last weekend’s 4-1 defeat to Watford, Bullen believes another tough task could be exactly what Wednesday need.

“In a bizarre kind of way, it’s probably the best game you can have because we can go down there with nothing to lose,” Bullen said.

“Yes, we will be underdogs.

“But we were in the first game, at Hillsborough.

“Of course, we will respect them - because they deserve it the way they have performed this season.

“But we don’t fear them.

“We will go out there and if everybody plays to their capabilities they have shown defensively and offensively, we will give them a good game.”

The Owls have won three of their last five games away at Leicester, and Bullen was part of the Wednesday side which demolished the Foxes 4-1 on their own turf back in December 2006.

“We do have a pretty good record at Leicester... but sometimes you end up with egg on your face when you say that!” Bullen smiled.

“But we did beat them at their place last year and we won at Hillsborough earlier this season.

“They will be favourites, and rightly so because they’ve been near the top of the league all season.

“I think Nigel has done a fantastic job to recover his team from the blow and near miss they had in the play-offs last season.

“Their lads have stood up that disappointment, took it on the chin and have come back stronger from it.

“They have been a breath of fresh air in the league.

“They’ve got so much pace and positivity in that play.

“We beat them here and we would like to do the double over them, but we know it’s going to be a hell of an ask.”

Jamie Vardy, a boyhood Owls fan who made a name for himself on the local scene at Stocksbridge Park Steels, has hit 16 league goals so far this term, and strike partner David Nugent has 18.

But Vardy is a doubt for the game, having limped out of Saturday’s win over promotion rivals Burnley at Turf Moor with a groin injury.

Vardy missed Tuesday evening’s draw with Wigan as a result, and Pearson admitted: “We don’t know the extent of the injury.

“It’s a disappointment for us because he’s been playing so well, but Chris Wood replaced him and had a positive impact, which shows we do have other options.

“We know that it will be a disappointment if we do have to miss him for any length of time, but we know that we’ve got very capable players to step into the side.

“Until we get some details as to the extent of the injury, I don’t think there’s any point speculating at the moment. We’ll have to see how it is.”

The Owls, meanwhile, expect to begin negotiations with their out-of-contract players in the coming weeks, once safety is assured.

As the Telegraph revealed last month, the Owls were waiting until their Championship status was secured before starting talks with 12 players whose contracts expire in June.

The Owls have 48 points - two off the traditional 50-point ‘safety’ mark, and 13 clear of third-bottom Barnsley - and are all but safe.

So attentions have now turned towards keeping the likes of Chris Kirkland, Oguchi Onyewu and Glenn Loovens, who all become free agents on July 1.

That trio are known to be high on boss Stuart Gray’s priority list, but the futures of the likes of Jermaine Johnson, Miguel Llera and Martin Taylor remain less clear.

David Prutton, another whose contract expires in the summer, could have played his last game for Wednesday after being allowed to join Coventry on loan.

The Owls have already agreed contract extensions for young stars Caolan Lavery and Liam Palmer.