The Championship relegation dogfight has turned into a fascinating tussle, and plenty of eyes will be on Hillsborough this weekend as two of the league’s bottom three teams lock horns.
Sheffield Wednesday’s overall form has been inconsistent in recent weeks, but in stark contrast to last season, it’s actually their away record that is letting them down. The Owls’ recent 2-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers earned them their fifth consecutive home win – a feat that they hadn’t managed since 2011.
They will be hoping to extend that impressive run against Birmingham City, who are enduring an appalling run of form. Blues’ January victory at Middlesbrough was their only win in 13 games. Aitor Karanka’s side have lost their last three Championship outings.
Wednesday caretaker boss Neil Thompson confirmed that his side will be without any of the five players who were unavailable for the midweek defeat against Stoke City.
Massimo Luongo, Andre Green and Moses Odubajo are all injured. Joost Van Aken is a longer-term absentee through injury. Striker Jack Marriott is still unavailable with a non-injury related issue which Thompson refused to specify.
As Wednesday fans will know all too well, central defender Dominic Iorfa won’t play again this season after he ruptured his achilles tendon.
Under-fire Birmingham manager Karanka could be without two players for this six-pointer. January signing Sam Cosgrove twisted his ankle in training, and Harlee Dean has had stitches in his ankle.
Both players missed the midweek defeat at Millwall and remain doubtful for the visit to Hillsborough.
Sheffield Wednesday (3-5-2)
Westwood, Lees, Dunkley, Urhoghide, Harris, Shaw, Hutchinson, Bannan, Reach, Windass, Rhodes.
Birmingham City (4-2-3-1)
Etheridge, Valery, Dean, Friend, Pederson, San Jose, Harper, Sanchez, Halilovic, Bela, Hogan.
Ones to watch
20-year-old Osaze Urhoghide has been a revelation since being re-introduced to the action at the start of January.
The former AFC Wimbledon man made his debut as a right-back last season and shone in his first two games before finding himself out of the team again. He’s had a rough ride with injury problems, but Urhoghide is back and looking more mature and consistent than ever before.
The youngster has been mainly deployed on the left of a back three – a change he’s got to grips with impressively. He’s got great pace and strength, two attributes that Wednesday’s backline has missed since Iorfa’s season-ending injury.
Spanish winger Ivan Sanchez started life at St Andrew’s in wonderful fashion as he registered two assists in four games, and his early-season performances won him rave reviews from the Blues faithful.
And although he hasn’t hit those heights in recent months, Sanchez remains a quality, skilful winger who has the technical ability to unlock Championship defences. The 28-year-old is a left-footed right-winger who loves to come inside.
Sheffield Wednesday put in a controlled performance at St Andrew's, as they ran out deserved 1-0 winners back in October. Former Aston Villa man Barry Bannan converted a penalty, which proved enough to seal all three points for the Owls.
Last time out...