Sheffield Wednesday: Jones has faith in Owls

Middlesbrough danger man Mustapha Carayol
Middlesbrough danger man Mustapha Carayol

Dave Jones will leave checks on Reda and Jermaine Johnson as late as possible before placing the final two pieces in his Hillsborough jigsaw.

Doubts about the pair have been the only uncertainty amid the Owls’ preparations for tomorrow’s big match.

Wednesday are looking for Jeremy Helan to bounce back after he was hindered by a thigh injury last week

Wednesday are looking for Jeremy Helan to bounce back after he was hindered by a thigh injury last week

But even if they do not make it, the Wednesday manager has faith in his squad.

He trusts his players and believes that they have confidence in themselves.

when Michail Antonio and JJ have been missing, it attracted comment that the team are short of pace, but he says: “People say that because they are so used to us having quick players. But we still made enough chances to have won at Peterborough - we just didn’t put them away.”

Jones will look for a greater input tomorrow from another speedy forward, Jeremy Helan, who was hampered by a deadleg in last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at London Road.

Reda Johnson would add to the team’s firepower at set pieces, but replacement left back Danny Pugh has done a fine job defensively and has supplied some useful free kicks and corners.

Jones could also consider a start for Leroy Lita, against his former club.

The Wednesday manager will certainly hope for an improvement in the team’s goalscoring: only two goals and two points have come from the last four games, hence the slide back into danger.

Lita spent two years with Middlesbrough, from 2009 to 2011, and scored 20 league goals for them in 51 starts plus 27 outings as a sub.

Chris Maguire, who was handed his first league start for the Owls at Peterborough, Steve Howard and Gary Madine remain the other main options up front.

Jones seems likely to go 4-4-2, after beginning last week’s game with only one central striker, Howard, but changing the system early in the game.

The Owls manager is against trying something entirely different in a game such as this: he will stick with the tried and tested.

“You have to trust your players all season, not just in certain games.

“You have to play to your strengths; I’ve always believed that; it’s stood me in good stead for many seasons. Of course you’ll mix it up a bit and change things at times, but you to play the way your players know.”

Jones says it is ”wait and see” on the injury front: “We might get suprised by people we thought weren’t going to make it, but do.”

He refutes any suggestion that it will it could be easier for Wednesday because Boro are not involved in promotion or relegation:

“There will be players in that team playing for contracts and for as high a finish as possible. I’ve never understood that (theory): I’ve never been in a team that goes out just to see a game through.

“They started the season reallly well and looked as if they were going to be strong contenders for promotion.

“When we played them in the early part of the season, they were being tipped for automatic; then it got down to the play-offs, then they seemed to fall away. It can happen in this division. It’s a long season and it takes its toll along the way.

I can’t even begin to explain that - that’s a question for Tony (Mowbray). I don’t know whether they had injuries or whatever.

“But they still have good players and it will be a difficult game for us.”

While Wednesday are conscious of a need not to let down their fans, Middlesbrough have a similar sentiment - they are likely to have a following of around 1,500, for a game that was made all-ticket earlier this week.

Keeper Jason Steele said: “Our season’s gone now but we’ve got to go there and put on a show for the fans. A contingent of 1,500 is fantastic. Not many clubs have brought that many fans to the Riverside Stadium over the past year.

“The support we’ve had through thick and thin this season has been magnificent.

“I know we’ve let a lot of people down recently but next season we are going to go again.”

One issue for Jones has been settled favourably: his claim against Cardiff for almost £540,000 in unpaid bonuses and severance money has been resolved amicably and confidentially.

Both parties have spoken well of each other and wished each other well for the future.

Talks were held on Tuesday and agreement was reached, which removed the need for Jones to pursue his case through the High Court.

He told The Star: “It’s all been settled amicably. I thank them very much and wish them all the best for the future.”

*Sheffield Sports Commentaries will be holding a bucket collection at the match, to raise funds for their commemtary service for hospitals and the blind.