HEAD COACH Carlos Carvalhal regards Sheffield Wednesday’s home encounter with in-form Derby County tomorrow as bigger than their midweek Capital One Cup quarter-final at Stoke City.
The Sky cameras will be at Hillsborough for a high-profile Championship fixture against the Rams, who have won 10 of their last 13 league matches, losing just once – in a televised match at Nottingham Forest.
Wednesday, just outside of the play-off spots, have seen their colours lowered just once in 12 league outings.
Despite their cup highs against the likes of Arsenal and Newcastle, Carvalhal says that he and his side will ultimately be judged on league business and has acknowledged the full importance of tomorrow (1.15pm).
Carvalhal, who is remaining tight-lipped regarding the fitness of key players Tom Lees and Barry Bannan, doubts with hamstring and knee injuries respectively, said: “It is more important (than Stoke) of course. It is the Championship and that is our focus.
“This is a game which is more important to us and we are completely focused for this game. Derby are one of the best teams, one of the strongest teams in this competition. The way that they play is positive and they play good football.”
Wednesday have yet to beat a side in the top six so far this term, but Carvalhal believes that statistic to be slightly skewed, pointing to several strong performances against the likes of Hull City and Burnley in mitigation.
He said: “We are a team who are building something from zero and it is not easy to play against strong teams. But we gave a lot of problems in a lot of games to the (top) teams.
“Against Middlesbrough, while it was very difficult after 1-1, it was a fantastic reaction (to equalise). Against Burnley, we lost, but it was one of our best games of the season, and against Ipswich we did fantastically well, and against Hull City.
“But now I believe we are ready and can do better. I hope we can do better on Sunday.”
Carvalhal has downplayed talk of victory over Derby being a huge psychological moment in the season.
He added: “All the time when you win, it is very good psychologically. It is not just about this opponent (Derby).
“When you win, you have more confidence and energy.
“It is just three points, whether it is the strongest team or another team.”
Derby have not been beaten in their last 14 outings against the Owls, including their last seven visits to Hillsborough.