By Peter Hampshire
Sheffield Wednesday will have to improve on one win in their last six if they are to regain a play-off position as they travel to the DW Stadium.
The game is Wigan Athletic’s first without Yanic Wildschut, following his £7m deadline day move to play-off chasing Norwich City, with the Dutchman handing in a transfer request just 24 hours before the transfer window closed.
Latics boss Warren Joyce reacted quickly to losing the pacey winger, bringing in eight additions to his squad in a tumultuous twelve hours including sought-after Omar Bogle, keeper Matthew Gilks from Rangers and free agent Gabriel Obertan.
Big game tonight & in good form but playing a v.good team on paper. Be great to get out the bottom 3 but draw would be a good result. #wafc
— JamesSaintLatic (@JamesSaintLatic) February 3, 2017
Wednesday saw some deadline day drama of their own, with the Football League eventually ratifying their signing of Jordan Rhodes.
The Owls have won on each of the last three meetings between the two clubs by a single-goal margin. They will hope January recruit Callum McManaman, 2013 FA Cup winner with Wigan, can impress on his first return to the DW.
Tricky winger McManaman told The Birmingham Mail of his relief to make the move to South Yorkshire. He said: “I was made up to get it done with – just to get out (of West Brom).”
McManaman’s FA Cup semi-final goal for Wigan Athletic against Millwall
While Wednesday hope to move back into sixth after being ousted by in-form Derby County in midweek, Joyce’s rejuvenated side could leapfrog Burton to go out of the relegation zone with a win.
The Latic’s may be buoyed by the fact that Wednesday lost all three away games to newly promoted teams last season.
Joyce admits Wednesday are a top side who have spent big. He told the official Wigan Athletic website: “They expect to get promoted so it’s going to be a really tough game for us.”
Wigan have only conceded four more goals than Wednesday all season, but have failed to score on 13 occasions this season.
— Jonathan (@Jonathan_1867) February 3, 2017
Late goals have been key for The Owls, with nearly 40% of their goals coming in the last 15 minutes of games.
The boss at Hillsborough Carlos Carvalhal faces a selection headache up front, with the Portuguese manager unsure on where the new signings of Rhodes and Sam Winnall leaves star striker Fernando Forestieri. He told The Sheffield Star: “I don’t agree that we have too many players in the position. We must think game by game.”