Sheffield Wednesday vs Middlesbrough preview:
How to watch, kick-off time, predicted lineups and ones to watch
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tony Pulis welcomes his former side to Hillsborough Stadium tomorrow night as Sheffield Wednesday host Middlesbrough in the EFL Championship.

Pulis was sacked as manager of Boro in 2019 after failing to finish in the play-offs despite being situated in the top six for a large proportion of the campaign. The Welshman took over from Garry Monk at the Riverside – coincidentally as he did at the Owls – and had a win percentage of 30.04% whilst with the club.

The 62-year-old has struggled for consistency in his short time with the Owls, losing five of his opening 10 fixtures, winning once over that period.

Middlesbrough come into this fixture on the back of three successive victories and occupy eighth place in the Championship.

Former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock has only lost on three occasions against Wednesday in 22 meetings, boasting a 1.59 points-per-game ratio against the Owls.

A victory for Boro could see them draw level with the top six, whereas a win for Wednesday could see them climb out of the bottom three for the first time this season.

Team news

Sheffield Wednesday still have a number of players out with long-term injuries, including Dominic Iorfa, Aden Flint, Jack Marriott and Cameron Dawson.

It has been confirmed that combative midfielder Massimo Luongo will be out until early 2021 with a knee injury.

Julian Börner has missed the last four games with a facial injury.

Pulis will also be waiting on whether former Boro winger Adam Reach will be fit after being forced off with a hamstring injury on Saturday, however, it was understood to only have been precautionary.

Joost van Aken was another who was brought off early with a groin injury, which he has been struggling with before the fixture.

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Middlesbrough have no new injury concerns ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

Jonny Howson, Marcus Browne, and Ashley Fletcher all continue their returns to fitness in training but remain doubts for this fixture.

Predicted lineups

Sheffield Wednesday (4-5-1):

Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Dunkley, Odubajo; Harris, Paterson, Pelupessy, Bannan, Reach; Windass.

Middlesbrough FC (4-5-1):

Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair, Bola; Wing, Saville, Morsy, Johnson, Watmore; Assombalonga.

Form guide

After losing four games on the bounce, Pulis earned his first win as manager of Sheffield Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over Coventry City before his side picked up a hard-fought point away at Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day.

Reach put the Owls ahead at Ewood Park on 41 minutes, directing a long-range effort into the top left-hand corner from 25 yards.

However, Blackburn equalised with 15 minutes remaining through Joe Rothwell, who slalomed his way through the Wednesday defence before stroking the ball past Keiren Westwood.

Middlesbrough put an end to a dip in form, which saw them lose three out of four games, by winning their last three fixtures against Millwall, Luton Town and Birmingham City.

The latter of those wins was a fantastic 4-1 victory at St Andrew’s Stadium.

Maxime Colin put Birmingham ahead after 15 minutes, however, Boro netted two goals in four minutes to lead at half-time.

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Lewis Wing then scored a brace in the second period to cap off a great performance from Warnock’s side.

Boro didn't play on Boxing Day due to several positive COVID-19 cases in the Rotherham United squad.

Ones to watch

Sheffield Wednesday – Josh Windass

Josh Windass is Wednesday’s top scorer this campaign with three goals.

The forward leads his side in shots per game, taking 2.2 attempts on average. It is also clear that he is Pulis’ main striker, starting the last six games since he returned from a three-game suspension in December.

The frustrating thing for Windass is that he often is left to his own devices, pressing from the front by himself and is regularly isolated when the Owls attack.

Windass’ best tally of goals in a Championship season came in the 2019/20 campaign where he netted seven goals in 24 games for Wigan Athletic and on loan at Sheffield Wednesday.

Middlesbrough - Dael Fry

Dael Fry has been one of Boro’s best players this season, picking up three man-of-the-match awards and maintaining a whoscored.com average rating of 7.15 – the highest in the squad.

The centre-half makes an average of 0.9 tackles per game, 4.5 clearances per game, and makes 2.2 interceptions as part of Warnock’s steady backline, which has conceded just 15 goals this season.

Last time they met

Middlesbrough were victorious when these two sides last met, coming in the final game of the season at Hillsborough in July.

Jacob Murphy opened the scoring after 10 minutes as he made his final appearance of his loan spell with the Owls, but Middlesbrough equalised just over 10 minutes later through Paddy McNair.

Boro won the game in the 93rd minute through Britt Assombalonga to ensure their Championship status after a very poor season.

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Wednesday have only won two of their last nine meetings with Middlesbrough, with Boro winning six of them.

What the managers have said

Pulis is hoping to have former Boro player Reach available to Tuesday night’s fixture, for whom he was full of praise for after his strike against Blackburn.

He has been a top player for me since I came to the football club,” Pulis said, speaking to the official website.

“I have been really pleased with his attitude and commitment to the team and he has got a wand of a left foot. It was a great finish.

“He was disappointed he didn't score in the second half. He tried to cut the ball past the keeper instead of bending it past him like he did in the first half.

“He has been full of energy, full of running. His hamstring was a little tight but hopefully he will be fine because he would be a big miss.

“But the whole group is a very hard-working group of players and they give everything they have got.”

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Warnock reflected on his love-hate relationship with the Owls ahead of the fixture.

“You don’t get as much success as what Tony has had without having a formula so you can’t knock it,” said Warnock, speaking in his pre-match press conference.

“It’s easy to criticise but he’s done it over a long period and I think he’ll get them out of the bottom three before the end of the season.

“Sheffield Wednesday is more of a derby for me from when I’ve been at United.

“It’s better when there’s fans there, I do enjoy the banter there with Wednesdayites, I’ve always enjoyed that over the years.

“It’s great driving up to Hillsborough, that brings back memories from when I was a kid. My first game watching in Sheffield was a Sheffield Wednesday game under floodlights.”

Where to watch

The match is available on iFollow through Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough’s respective club websites, with match passes priced at £10 for those in the United Kingdom.

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