With the promise of the return of fans coming potentially in May, it gives clubs across the EFL a boost, in knowing that better times are on their way.
The more immediate focus for teams however, is to put themselves in the best possible position ahead of the supporters’ return.
In the EFL Championship, two sides that face off on Wednesday night have very different ambitions. As hosts Brentford look to halt their stuttering form to get back on their promotion push.
Meanwhile visitors Sheffield Wednesday will be aiming to retain their league status, in what has been a season to forget at the bottom of the table.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank currently has a few major injury concerns, with defender Pontus Jansson and midfielder Shandon Baptiste out with ankle and knee injuries respectively. Left-back Rico Henry is also due to be out for two months, and both Ivan Toney and Josh DaSilva are unlikely to start.
In the other camp, Sheffield Wednesday caretaker manager Neil Thompson has somewhat of an injury crisis to deal with. Massimo Luongo, Dominic Iorfa, Joost van Aken and Moses Odubajo are all long-term injury problems. Whilst Andre Green picked up a recent heel injury, and Liam Shaw is suspended following his red card at the weekend.
(4-3-3) Raya, Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Sorensen, Roerslev, Jensen, Janelt, Ghoddos, Fosu, Mbeumo, Pressley.
(4-4-2) Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Hutchinson, Urhoghide, Reach, Bannan, Pelupessy, Penney, Paterson, Kachunga.
The Bees come into the game off the back of three straight defeats, most recently against relegation candidates Coventry City, where a brace from Tyler Walker was enough to see them off. Losses to QPR and Barnsley came before that, which have somewhat sullied the 21 match unbeaten run that they had put together beforehand. However they remain in the automatic promotion places, so will be hoping for no further slip ups here.
Meanwhile, Wednesday have lost back-to-back games themselves, losing 1-0 to both Stoke City and Birmingham City. However three wins from four before that shows that they have the capabilities to get the results that will help them to survive the drop. They will be massive underdogs here, but they will likely be buoyed by Brentford’s recent poor form.
Ones to watch
With their main attacking threat in Toney unlikely to start the game, Brentford will be hoping that Frenchman Bryan Mbeumo can put in an inspiring performance to drive them to victory. He was part of their ruthless attacking trio that came so close to the Premier League last season. But with both Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma gone, it is down to Mbeumo to make it second time lucky. Fans will already know of his quality, so will be hoping that he can produce some here.
In terms of attacking threat for Wednesday, they will look to forward Callum Paterson, who is their top scorer this season with seven. And although that isn’t a particularly high number at this stage of the season, any goal could be crucial to winning games. The former Cardiff City man is somewhat of a versatile player, so can be a useful asset at both ends of the pitch, a quality that his club will hope he can produce on Wednesday night.
These sides have been in the Championship together for seven seasons now, so have met on 13 occasions in the league during that time. The Owls won six of the meetings to Brentford’s five, however four of those five Brentford wins have come in the last six clashes, including a 5-0 drubbing the last time they hosted Wednesday. The reverse fixture this season was won by the London side as well, with an Ivan Toney brace seeing them edge to a 2-1 victory.
How to watch
The game is available to watch for both sets of fans on each club’s individual iFollow pages. For season ticket holding Brentford fans, the link is obtainable for free.
What the managers have said
Brentford manager Thomas Frank spoke to the local press ahead of the game, insisting that his side have the ability to overcome this blip. He said:
“Ten days ago we were top of the league and 21 games unbeaten, now we have lost three and everyone thinks it is a disaster.
“It is not, we have not become a bad team overnight.
“This is a long journey and every team in this division, and every league in Europe, will have a bump in the road.”
In the other dugout, Sheffield Wednesday interim boss Neil Thompson told the media that he is expecting Brentford to come out fighting. He said:
“It’s a big challenge, they’ll be licking their wounds as well – they’ve had three defeats.
“We know very well that they’re a really good team who play very expansive. There’s a lot of rotation and Thomas Frank has done a brilliant job down there.
"We’ve go to be focused and positive about it.”