Pre-season friendly, Hillsborough Stadium, Wednesday 30th July, 7:45 pm kick-off
Sheffield Wednesday will return to home soil for the first time since the end of April when they entertain Premier League outfit Newcastle United in their penultimate warm-up match.
The two clubs are separated by one division, and they haven’t faced each other since the 2009-10 season when both sides were in the Championship.
In that season both the Owls and the Magpies departed from the second tier, but in very different circumstances: Newcastle cruised back into the Premiership after just one campaign away from the promised land, whilst Wednesday suffered relegation into the third tier of English football.
United’s successful promotion was helped by the four points that they took off the Owls that term; Shola Ameobi scored the only goal of the first meeting in August, as Newcastle squeezed past their Yorkshire counterparts in the encounter at St James’ Park, but Ameobi’s side were held to a 2-2 draw on Boxing Day in the corresponding fixture.
Wednesday: Last time out at Doncaster (D 2-2)
Kirkland, Palmer, Zayatte, (Loovens 61), Kelhar, Helan, (Mattock 72), Antonio, Coke, (Hutchinson 61), Lee, (McCabe 72), Maghoma, Lavery, (Madine 48), Nuhiu, (Maguire 61)
Newcastle: Last time out at Wellington Phoenix (L 0-1)
Elliot, Yanga-Mbiwa (Satka 65), Coloccini (Vuckic 78), S Taylor, Haidara (Dummett 76), Anita, Colback, Abeid (Aarons 46), Gouffran (Campbell 85), De Jong (Perez 31), Riviere (Armstrong 65)
A closer look at Wednesday
Stuart Gray only has a small squad at his disposal, so he won’t appreciate the amount of injuries that his players have picked up so far this summer.
New goalkeeper Kieren Westwood missed the trip to Doncaster after suffering a knee injury in training, and it now seems like he may need surgery to correct the issue. Central midfield pair Jose Semedo and Kieran Lee also missed the draw at the Keepmoat through groin problems, and both are likely to miss Wednesday night’s showdown. Young Irish striker Coalan Lavery suffered a cruciate injury at Doncaster which forced him off the field prematurely, and it will rule him out for several months.
Meanwhile, Lewis Buxton seems to have faced yet another injury set back, he was forced to have an injection on his knee and he may even miss the season opener at Brighton.
Keep an eye on
Congolese winger Jacques Maghoma put in an outstanding performance and was instrumental in Sunday’s draw at Doncaster. The Tottenham academy product brilliantly set up goals for Adthe Nuhiu and Michail Antonio as Wednesday raced into a 2-0 lead.
Maghoma has enjoyed a very productive pre-season thus far; he also opened the scoring against Bury.Pacey and skilful, Jacques can play on either flank or in the number ten position, and he showed plenty of flashes of quality during his debut season at Hillsborough as he made the almighty jump up from League Two to the Championship.
After getting a season of second tier football under his belt, the ex-Burton midfielder will hope to really kick on and influence games consistently next term.
A closer look at Newcastle
Pre-season has been relatively busy for Newcastle who have seen six new arrivals and nine departures so far.
Under-fire boss Alan Pardew has recruited pretty well, perhaps most notably adding Remy Cabella and Daryl Janmaat to his squad, two players who were part of their country’s World Cup squads. Siem De Jong has also joined the club from Ajax. De Jong can play as an attacking midfielder or as a striker, and he penned a six year deal at Tyneside after an undisclosed fee was agreed with the 25 year-old’s former club, Ajax.
Furthermore, midfielder Jack Colback was sensationally recruited from fierce rivals Sunderland, whilst Emmanuel Riviere and Ayoze Perez have also arrived at St James’ Park this summer. However, it is unlikely that the recent arrivals will feature tomorrow night, because Pardew has hinted that tomorrow night’s warm-up match will be a ‘chance for the younger players.’
In terms of departures, the Magpies made £12 million from the sale of French international Mathieu Debuchy, who joined Arsenal after enjoying a decent World Cup campaign. It also seems like Pardew is trying to offload exciting winger Hatem Ben Arfa due to the apparent attitude problems that Debuchy’s compatriot has. If Ben Arfa does depart, he will join Shola Ameobi, Sylvan Marveaux, Dan Gosling and some younger fringe players who United have also waved goodbye to this pre-season.
Keep an eye on…
Burundian-born central midfielder Gael Bigirimana certainly will have welcomed the news that Pardew plans to use plenty of young players in the pre-season match in South Yorkshire. The 20 year-old has made 13 appearances for Toon, and he has one goal to his name in a black and white shirt.
Bigirimana signed for Newcastle back in 2012 from Coventry City, and although he has seldom found first-team opportunities in Tyneside, it is clear that the England Under 20 international has plenty of potential.He’s an unknown quantity to outsiders so keep an eye on the talented midfielder.
Odds (Courtesy of Betfair)
Wednesday win: 4/9
Newcastle win: 2/9
Ticket prices: £15 adults, £5 Under 18s and Over 65s