Date: 8th February 2017 at 5:02pm
Written by:

By Matt Farr

Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal is expected to name an unchanged side for their upcoming Championship clash with Birmingham on Friday.

The Owls were victorious in their last league outing, winning 1-0 away at relegation candidates Wigan, and Carvalhal is likely to keep the faith in his starting XI.

That means there is likely to be no return to the starting XI for either Tom Lees or Gary Hooper, who are both still on their way back from injury.

Their fitness is to be assessed ahead of kick-off, but neither player is likely to be risked in a starting role.

New signing Jordan Rhodes is therefore expected to lead the line once again for the promotion chasers, on what would be his second appearance for the club.

Rhodes supplied the assist in the 1-0 win against Wigan and will be hoping to get his first goal on Friday evening.

Keiren Westwood has been the undisputed No.1 for Sheffield Wednesday this season, and that is not likely to change against Birmingham.

He has appeared in all but two of their Championship games this term, keeping 11 clean sheets.

The back-four is also set to remain unchanged, with Vincent Sasso retaining his place alongside Glenn Loovens at the heart of the defence in the continued absence of Lees.

The pair gave a solid display against Wigan last week, and will be expected to continue their good work against a Birmingham side looking to close the gap on the play-offs.

Full-backs Daniel Pudil and Jack Hunt make up the remainder of a defence that has kept nine clean sheets since the last time the two sides met on September 17.

Barry Bannan and David Jones, meanwhile, will continue to operate in the centre-of-midfield, with the former putting in a commanding man-of-the-match display against Wigan.

Jones has started the last two games for Sheffield Wednesday after replacing Kieran Lee in the side, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Carvalhal is also expected to keep the faith in his two preferred wide-men. Ross Wallace will take up arms on the right-hand side, with Adam Reach deployed on the left, despite an impressive cameo appearance from Callum McManaman last time out.

The pair will be given the freedom to run at the Birmingham full-backs, and will look to supply hitman Rhodes in attack.

Fernando Forestieri, lastly, will operate from his familiar shadow-striker role, feeding off Rhodes and Sheffield Wednesday’s midfield quartet as the central attacking cog.

Victory for Carvalhal’s side can put them within two points of promotion rivals Leeds, and tighten their grip on the Championship play-offs.

They are currently sixth in the table, but hold just a two point lead over Norwich, a margin that could be thrown away if they lose to 12th place Birmingham

In other Sheffield Wednesday news, Peter Beagrie has delivered his promotion verdict on Sheffield Wednesday, and names the key player to their promotion hopes.

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