The Friday night game in the Sky Bet Championship this week sees Carlos Carvalhal’s Sheffield Wednesday host Gianfranco Zola’s Birmingham City at Hillsborough.
Friday night football is all too familiar to the Owls who have played in two of the last three Friday night games live on Sky Sports. They come into the encounter in mixed form with two wins, two draws and a loss in their last five games. Wednesday currently occupy the last play-off place and with a game in hand on Norwich who sit immediately below them, they will be looking to stretch the gap between themselves and the Canaries to six points.
Gianfranco Zola finally got his first win as Birmingham boss last week, beating Fulham 1-0 on home turf. The Blues will now be looking to kickstart a good run of form but couldn’t face many tougher tests in the league than an away trip to South Yorkshire to face Sheffield Wednesday. Birmingham currently sit in twelfth place on 40 points. The play-offs now seem a world away for the Midlands side but with a good run of form, they won’t be ruled out until it’s mathematically impossible.
The travelling Blues will be without some key names for their trip to South Yorkshire. Both first choice centre backs Ryan Shotton and Michael Morrison will miss the trip. Morrison recently underwent groin surgery and Shotton is currently out with an injury in the same area. Winger Jacques Maghoma is also set to miss the game after returning from the African Cup of Nations with a knock to his knee.
As for Wednesday, gaffer Carvalhal is expected to name an unchanged side from the team which beat Wigan last time out. Tom Lees is expected to be absent again with Jordan Rhodes leading the line as Gary Hooper struggles once again with a calf injury.
Speaking ahead of the clash to the Birmingham Mail, Zola has warned his players of any complacency following their win over Fulham at St Andrews.
He said “We haven’t done anything yet. We just won a difficult game which was important.
“We are not paid to win one game, we are paid to win many of them and the one that we are playing on Sheffield Wednesday is one of them and very important.
“It was so important for all of us but we need to make sure we don’t relax and have the same focus and attention because Sheffield Wednesday on Friday are not going to do us any favours.”
Wednesday sit as favourites for the win with 888 Sport. A home win sits at 19/25 with a draw at 13/5 and an away win for the Blues at 7/2. Both teams to score sits at 16/15, with over 2.5 goals at 11/10. Jordan Rhodes to score first and bag his first goal for the Owls sits at a tempting 22/5. If Birmingham are to get anything from the game then the likes of Lukas Jutkiewicz and Che Adams could be key with them to score anytime available at 16/5 and 7/2 respectively. A 2-1 win for Sheffield Wednesday with the ever-present Fernando Forestieri scoring first could be a shout at 40/1.