IN so far as Championship safety and booking an all-Steel City FA Cup quarter-final goes, the more optimistic of Sheffield Wednesday supporters are in danger of believing it is a foregone conclusion.
But for defender Glenn Loovens and his team-mates, it is nowhere near a case of ‘job done’, with it perhaps wise to temper a note of caution ahead of such a seminal few days for the club where the immediate focus is everything.
First up for the Owls is a derby at Huddersfield, with Stuart Gray’s side no doubt mindful that victory would propel them firmly towards the calm waters of mid-table on a day when sides in the Championship relegation morass are certain to drop points with four of the bottom five locking horns.
The second part of the Hillsborough outfit’s key double-header in the space of a couple of days sees Charlton Athletic arrive at S6 for an FA Cup fifth-round encounter – with the prize at stake for the Owls being a place in the last eight of the competition.
Not just that, but the biggest Sheffield derby since 1993, which would represent a high-profile game of national prominence that few Owls players will have played in before in their careers.
The expectation for the Owls to book a trip to Bramall Lane early next month is huge, with Wednesdayites and indeed Unitedites already salivating at the prospect.
So no pressure then for Wednesday over the next few days – although Loovens intends to embrace the dual challenge in league and cup.
Loovens, who has sampled defeat just twice in 13 appearances for the Owls, said: “Some people forget we still have to play this game on Monday if you hear the people on the street. But that’s only a good thing for us and it will keep us on our toes and make sure we are 100 per cent committed.
“We also still need a few more points to get up that table, too. So it’s important we win for the confidence on Monday and for the league to climb up that table.
“Obviously, we still have a bit of work to do. But if you look at the past two months, the team should be confident of pushing up that table, while we are also in the FA Cup. So there are two things we have to take care of and, if we can keep playing like we have been, I think we will be fine.”
The Dutch defender may not have lined up for the man who brought him to the club in Dave Jones, following his sacking on December 1, but when fit, he has certainly done the business for his successor in the dug-out in Gray and shown just why Jones brought him in.
Loovens, who returned from a hamstring problem to line up in the narrow midweek loss to Derby, said: “Because I was injured (before joining), I wanted to go to a manager who knew me, so he gave me time to get back to 100 per cent fitness levels. Dave just phoned me and said: ‘Come and help me out’ and was a big reason for me to come here.
“Sadly, I didn’t play one game under him, but that’s football and you get on with your job you get paid for.
“I didn’t know Stuart before, but I have got to know him now and he is doing a good job
“For me, it’s always good to be back playing. I had some problems with my hamstring in the last few weeks, but it’s all good now and it was good to be back on the pitch on Tuesday.”