Sheffield Wednesday: Owls braced for Coke blow

Giles Coke's absence would be a blow, says coach Paul Wilkinson
Giles Coke's absence would be a blow, says coach Paul Wilkinson

WEDNESDAY face disruption to a successful midfield formula when they take on Leicester tomorrow.

Coach Paul Wilkinson has confirmed that Giles Coke is doubtful because of the foot injury that resulted in him having to be helped from the field at Watford in the 40th minute.

Jose Semedo, who replaced him, will be one of the contenders for a start at the King Power Stadium.

Rhys McCabe and Kieran Lee appear to be the other main candidates.

The Owls’ line-up will also depend on whether Dave Jones sticks with 4-3-3, in which Lee was recalled at Watford to be the extra man in a central midfield three, or reverts to the usual 4-4-2, which has featured Coke and David Prutton as the regular partnership in the middle of midfield.

McCabe has in the past either played as a centre-midfield man or been a main back-up, unlike Lee, who has played mostly on the right flank.

Semedo is another out-and-out centre-midfield and a former first-team regular, whose experience and defensive qualities could be an asset tomorrow.

But Jones is an admirer of McCabe’s creative qualities, though he lacks experience.

Wilkinson said that the club are awaiting the medics’ verdict on Coke after tests on his foot, and the problem had settled down since the Watford game.

“He would be a big miss for us,” admitted Wilkinson. “He and Pruts have done very well and been an integral part of the team.

“Hopefully he won’t be too long. I would think he’ll be a doubt. Obviously we’re hoping he’ll be available.”

A return to 4-4-2 would almost certainly see the return of Leroy Lita up front to partner Connor Wickham.

“Leroy has been terrific for us,” said Wilkinson. “He came on against Watford and nearly scored. I’m sure he’ll be ready if selected.”

Lita was left out owing to the tactical demands of the game at Watford,

But Wilkinson talks about “a system of playing over the last few weeks which has worked for us.”

That system has seen Lita partner Wickham, “There will be times when we tweak it,” added Wilkinson. “It’s important to be able to do that and still maintain the strength and quality in your team.

“The boys showed that we are able to change it and still achieve the levels we have expected over the last couple of months.”

Wilkinson said the performance at Watford was such that the club were more disappointed with the second half against Forest.

“Last Saturday we didn’t really get going until the second half, and when we did, we didn’t produce enough to get something out of the game, even though we could have had a couple of decisions go our way.

“The other night, the way we performed and the chances we created gave the lads a real lift.

“If we create chances like that week in, week out, we’ll score goals. We also need to make sure we keep the back door shut.”