Sheffield Wednesday begin their EFL League One venture with a trip to Charlton Athleticon Saturday 7 August.
The Owls’ competitive campaign commenced on Sunday afternoon, as they exited the Carabao Cup on penalties against Huddersfield Town, following a goalless draw in normal time.
Wednesday have won seven and drawn one of their last 11 opening league fixtures, and a win in front of the Sky cameras would be a great beginning as Darren Moore sets his eyes on an instant return to the EFL Championship.
Wednesday have won their last three fixtures against Charlton, however, they went six games without a win just before that.
The Addicks will be hoping to get off to the best possible start as Nigel Adkins looks to mount a push towards getting his side back into the Championship.
He went close last season, however, losing just one game in his 10 fixtures in charge after taking over from Lee Bowyer in March. But it was not enough, as they finished just outside the play-off spots on goal difference.
Charlton will be encouraged by Adkins’ previous record, achieving promotion on three different occasions.
Ben Purrington is unlikely to feature after picking up a knock in pre-season.
There could be debuts for Craig MacGillivray, George Dobson, Akin Famewo, Jayden Stockley, and former Owl Sean Clare after all signing during the summer.
Wednesday's Josh Windass is out for up to two months with a hamstring injury.
The Owls will be without loan signing Olamide Shodipo, who came off against Huddersfield with a muscle strain and, whilst the extent of the injury is largely unknown, it has been confirmed that he will miss Saturday’s trip.
Happy to have made my debut and to finally see all you fans at Hillsborough!💙🤩— Mide Shodipo (@midesho) August 5, 2021
Really upset about the injury but I’ll be back in no time helping this team get back to where we belong! 🙏🏾🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/z77e24Ja1F
On the plus side, it seems that Barry Bannan’s early exit on Sunday was just a precaution and he will be available against Charlton.
Forward Florian Kamberi could make his debut after receiving international clearance.
Thursday’s acquisitions Marvin Johnson and Lee Gregory could also be in line to make their debuts for their new club after signing permanently from Middlesbrough and Stoke City, respectively.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2):
MacGillivray; Gunter, Famewo, Inniss, Matthews; Jaiyesimi, Morgan, Dobson, Ghandour; Washington, Davison.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-3-3):
Peacock-Farrell; J. Hunt, Iorfa, Hutchinson, Brown; Bannan, Luongo, Wing; Green, Gregory, Johnson.
Charlton had a mixed pre-season, as they won, drew, and lost two games apiece.
Wednesday were handed an early exit out of the Carabao Cup, as after a goalless draw with Huddersfield, they were beaten 4-2 on penalties last Sunday.
But before that in pre-season, the Owls picked up three wins over Chester, Alfreton Town, and Port Vale, but suffered defeats to Championship sides Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion.
Ones to watch
Charlton Athletic – Sean Clare
Clare will hope to make his debut against his former side on Saturday afternoon.
The 24-year-old signed for the Owls in 2016 after his release from the Nike Academy, where the midfielder went on to make several first-team appearances – even scoring against Aston Villa – before choosing not to sign a new deal with the club and signing for Scottish Premier League side Hearts.
Clare then signed for Oxford United in 2020, but only played a bit-part role before joining Burton Albion on loan.
The midfielder, who can also operate at right-back, will be looking to reignite his once-promising career under Adkins.
Sheffield Wednesday – Lee Gregory
Gregory returned to his hometown on Thursday afternoon from Stoke on a permanent deal, as Moore looked to bolster his attacking options.
The 32-year-old arrives at Hillsborough with over 100 Football League goals to his name.
He also has shown good pedigree at a League One level, scoring 18 goals in the 2016/17 campaign as Millwall were promoted through the play-offs.
Coming into the latter parts of his career, Gregory will be looking to add another promotion to his CV whilst with the Owls.
The Owls completed the double over Charlton in the 2019/20 season.
Their first meeting came at the Valley, where a double from Steven Fletcher and a late Atdhe Nuhiu effort saw Wednesday to a 3-1 victory over the Addicks.
Fletcher was again in the goals against Charlton, as his 95th-minute winner gave Wednesday a 1-0 victory at Hillsborough.
What the managers have said
Manager Adkins says he is raring to go ahead of the season’s opener.
“The spirit of the players has been excellent,” said Adkins, speaking to the club’s official website.
“We’ve got a lot of young players who bring a lot of enthusiasm and the senior players have been outstanding in supporting the young players and helping them in their development. We’re looking forward to the weekend’s game, it’s going to be exciting.
“It’s going to be a big crowd, there should be some good atmosphere, music, the Alan Curbishley Stand is getting revealed which is a fantastic honour for Alan and richly deserved for all of the work he has done at Charlton Athletic over the years. That’s going to be great and that’s just going to build all of the excitement leading into the game.
“Obviously the owner’s got a song as well which I’m sure is going to go down really well and that will help generate the atmosphere around the ground. The players on the training ground have been working hard and they’re really excited about the week ahead and the season ahead, but importantly the first game that we’ve got back at The Valley in front of the fans.
“It’s going to be a fantastic day, I know it’s going to rain but it’s not going to dishearten anybody. The fans are going to be with each other in the stadium, you’re going to be with your mates having a coffee or a beer. You’re going to be talking football, catching up and saying, ‘oh, I’ve not seen you for ages!’ and you’re together.”
Moore previewed an “exciting” opening game against Charlton in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“When you look at what Nigel did with them last season, they’ve brought some good players in and he’s done a magnificent job,” said Moore.
“They are well organised, and they play some good stuff as a group.
“It’s an exciting game for the opening day of the season. I will always be respectful to the league and I respect the other 23 clubs.
“We have to compete and show consistency and as the manager, I have to maintain a professional outlook on the competition.
“We’ll see a lot of quality this season because there are some big clubs in there, the level of players in this league is wonderful to see.
“I don’t think there has ever been as much anticipation for a League One season as there is for this coming campaign.”
How to watch
The game is live on Sky Sports at 17:30 BST on Saturday 7 August.
The game will also be live on CharltonTV in certain countries outside of the United Kingdom.