wednesday won a long and close-fought battle to escape from League One but manager Dave Jones believes it will be even harder to get out of the Championship.
Jones rates it the most demanding division of all and says it is getting “stronger every year.”
The Owls kick off at Derby tomorrow with hopes of making their own major impact this season .
“This is the hardest division to get out of,” says Jones. “There’s so much at stake; so many teams who are evenly balanced.
“There are the three teams who have come down from the Premier League (Wolves, Bolton and Blackburn); teams who have come up; teams who have spent an awful lot of money; more players are dropping from the Premier League and European teams and going into the Championship.
“It’s a tough, tough division to get out of.
“The majority of Championship clubs will have an 11 from their squad that’s capable of achieving anything, if they hit the ground running, if they get the results, get a bit of luck and goals; it’s a mixture of everything.”
Jones accepts that there are other teams with greater spending power than Wednesday.
“But it’s about desire, commitment, organisattion. You can spend millions and millions and still end up struggling. There are no guarantees: the only one is that you have to work hard and make sure that when you go into a game you are right from the start and go right to the finish.
“Last season we probably got away with it a bit. We won’t get away with it this season. You make a mistake and normally you’ll get punished for it.”
Jones refuses to make forecasts about how the Owls may fare. He said: “We have to be competitive, strong, and believe and trust in each other. We’ll find out in the next couple of months whether you’re in a battle up or down.
“We have to make sure we’re prepared and have a desire to win every match.”
Apart from Chris Lines, it looks as if the Owls will have a fully fit squad tomorrow.
They will check to make sure that Gary Madine and Chris Maguire have suffered no reaction to training yesterday, after going off at Oldham with what proved to be minor injury problems.
Wednesday’s chances this season could also be influenced by whatever players Jones plans to bring in.
“You have to get to around 10 games before it all starts to settle down and you see maybe who’s going to be front-runners,” he added. “But look at Reading: they were nowhere near it yet came through in the last 18 games.
“There are going to be ups and downs. I just hope we have more ups than downs.”
Derby boss Nigel Clough expects Wednesday to be a force. He said: “They have got a manager now with an awful lot of experience, and they will be looking for more than just surviving in the division.”
OWLS (possible): Kirkland; Buxton, Llera, Gardner, R Johnson; Antonio, Semedo, Pecnik, J Johnson; Madine, Maguire. (4-4-2).
DERBY (possible): Fielding; Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, Roberts; Coutts, Bryson, Hughes, Jacobs; Ward, Robinson. (4-4-2).
Scott mathieson (Cheshire): Handled the Owls’ 1-0 home defeat against Stevenage in February and the 1-0 victory against Leyton Orient at Hillsborough last November.