Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Championship clash between Stoke City and Sheffield Wednesday, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The visitors are back in the bottom three of the standings, a consequence of their meeting with Swansea City at the weekend being postponed due to a frozen pitch.
While Stoke remain within seven points of the playoffs, manager Michael O’Neill will be optimistic that his side can still claim a spot in the top six before the end of the season.
However, the Potters have completely lost their way, the 4-1 defeat at Norwich City on Saturday afternoon extending their winless streak to nine matches.
With just 11 points being collected from 13 fixtures, O’Neill knows that he is under pressure to oversee a turnaround in results, despite the limitations brought on by FFP this season.
Despite not prevailing at the bet365 Stadium since December 19, a home double-header with Sheffield Wednesday and Luton Town represents an opportunity to make quick headway up the table.
Having been provided with a free weekend, Wednesday caretaker boss Neil Thompson will feel the same about his team’s trip to the Potteries.
Although the Owls are in the bottom three having played a game more than nearest rivals Rotherham United, they currently find themselves just eight points adrift of 15th position.
Three wins have been recorded from their last four fixtures in the Championship, their one blip being the second-half capitulation at Millwall earlier this month.
Nevertheless, Thompson will have few concerns regarding a squad who currently sit in fifth position in the form table, considerably higher than a Stoke outfit which occupies 19th spot.
Stoke City Championship form: DDLDDL
Sheffield Wednesday Championship form: WLWWLW
Sheffield Wednesday form (all competitions): LLWWLW
O’Neill will almost certainly make several changes to his Stoke XI, including handing a recall to James McClean.
Barring any fitness issues, Thompson is expected to name the same Owls side which started the game against Wycombe.
Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Gunn; Smith, Souttar, Chester, Fox; Thompson, Mikel; Matondo, Powell, McClean; Fletcher
Sheffield Wednesday possible starting lineup:
Westwood; Harris, Lees, Dunkley, Urhoghide, Reach; Shaw, Hutchinson, Bannan; Paterson, Rhodes
We say: Stoke City 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Having made considerable progress since the temporary appointment of Thompson, we fancy Wednesday to earn a result at the bet365 Stadium. However, Stoke are under pressure to improve, and they have the tools to earn a share of the spoils on Tuesday evening.
— to www.sportsmole.co.uk