Jones faces selection posers ahead of big kick-off

17 August 2012 01:17
Owls manager has near full-strength squad to choose from

Sheffield Wednesday kick off their Championship campaign on Saturday when they travel to Pride Park to face Derby County.

Having overcome a tricky test at Oldham in the League Cup on Monday it seemed as though the Owls would be without one or two key players due to injury concerns. Strike duo Gary Madine and Chris Maguire were withdrawn in the first half at Boundary Park but they have since returned to training and are in contention to play.

Their fitness gives manager Dave Jones some decisions to make. The pair were expected to start the season as first choice but neither have been in great form in pre-season and on Monday Chris O’Grady put in another impressive display up top and was complimented by new signing Nejc Pecnik, whose performance improved notably when he was given a role playing off O’Grady.

The only definite injury absentee is midfielder Chris Lines who will miss the first couple of months of the season due to an injury picked up in a friendly fixture against West Brom.

Given that Pecnik did not look comfortable in a central midfield role, Diogo Amado, David Prutton and Giles Coke, who featured in the 2nd half at Oldham, will all come into consideration to play alongside Jose Semedo.

Derby come into the game off the back of a home League Cup defeat to Scunthorpe on Tuesday. The Rams had led the game 5-3 but then missed a penalty and were pegged back by 2 late goals before going on to lose on penalties.

Nigel Clough could hand league debuts to new signings James O’Connor, Richard Keogh, Paul Coutts and Michael Jacobs. Former Sheffield United striker Jamie Ward is expected to return to the fold having missed the midweek match due to being on international duty.

The home side will be without influential defender and club captain Shaun Barker due to a serious knee injury.

Derby ended last season with 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats from their final 6 games to finish in a creditable 12th place in the Championship.

Wednesday showed remarkable form to end their League One season with a 14 match unbeaten run and earn automatic promotion. They are yet to lose a competitive game since Dave Jones became manager in early March.