Tony Pulis will look to claim a first win as Sheffield Wednesday manager at the fifth time of asking on Saturday afternoon, when his team make a visit to Norwich City.
After three draws on the bounce, the most recent a hard-earned point with 10 men against Reading, they will face their toughest challenge yet in the Championship leaders.
Pulis was full of praise for the management of his opponent number Daniel Farke, and expects a very difficult challenge.
“I like Daniel, I think he’s done a smashing job there,” he said. “He’s a very understated person, but the times I’ve spent with him I’ve found him to be interesting and a good man.
“It’s going to be a big test for us, they’ve got lot of players who they brought in to play in the Premier League, so it’ll be a tough game for us, no question. We’ll just go there and do what we’ve done over the last four games; make sure everyone understands their role in the team and gives their best.
“That’s what we’ve got to do until we get the opportunity and the chance in three or four weeks’ time to bring in one or two players who will give us a bit more.”
On the return of fans
Football fans have begun to return to grounds in some areas of the country this week, and Carrow Road will welcome back 2,000 for Sheffield Wednesday’s visit.
Pulis will be happy to at least have some back, admitting: “It’s strange time for me, having played in the game for a long, long time. You walk out and it’s like a reserve game. Without being disrespectful, it’s a little bit soulless.
“Professional football is about the fans, about atmosphere and playing to the beat of a drum. There’s something that’s been taking away without the fans there.”
Wednesday’s only fresh injury concern is captain Barry Bannan, who was brought off at half-time against Reading with a knock to his ankle.
“Barry’s the only one that we’ll check on,” confirmed Pulis. “It’s a decision to make whether I start him. He’ll want to play but it’s just whether I start him, bring him on or keep him for the upcoming games. I’ll make that decision in the next 24 hours.”
They will be particularly short in midfield with both Massimo Luongo and Liam Shaw also missing the Norwich game through suspension, though they do welcome back Josh Windass from the forward’s own ban, while Dominic Iorfa returned from injury to play the second half in midweek.
“Dominic coming on was an absolute boost for us,” said Pulis. “Dom has stepped back, Josh steps back into it, but unfortunately we lose Mass and Shawy. We’re gaining and losing, gaining and losing.”
On winning mentality
Pulis is still waiting for that win on the board and the perceived negativity in his first matches, which have seen the team score only twice, has come in for some criticism from supporters. However, the manager insists he always wants to approach things positively.
“I’m not a backwards or sideways manager, I want to go forward,” he said. “I like people who want to go past defenders and take defenders on.
“I think every game that we go into, is a game we’re looking to win. Every game that we go into it we have to be positive. Their response over the four games has been excellent.
“There are games I think with some good fortune or luck we could have won, but it wasn’t to be, so we have to keep grinding and grinding and grinding, until we get to that stage where we’re not only strong enough defensively, but potent enough at the top end of the pitch.”
On January planning
That might come with the help of some reinforcements in the winter transfer window, for which Pulis said preparations were already well underway.
“The planning for the window and the opportunity that this month gives has to be laying a foundation, where hopefully we can bring the players we need to give us the best opportunity to climb up the table,” he said.
“I’ve started now. You have to be in front of the game. I think the squad will want to see one or two players come in. There’s no doubt about that. They’re a really good group of players but they want to see the group enhanced without a doubt.
“The chairman is obviously thousands of miles away but the inclination from the chairman as well is for me to have a good look at it and then sit down and have a good talk with him about it, and then we’ll go from there.”