Sheffield Wednesday will edge out my old clubs Leeds United and Huddersfield Town in play-offs '“ Neil Warnock

AHEAD of a return to Hillsborough that he jokes might be best made sporting a crash helmet, Neil Warnock has backed whoever wins the duel for sixth place between Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham to also prevail in the play-offs.

Neil Warnock has recently taken charge at Cardiff, who he brings to Hillsborough on Friday. (Picture: PA)

The lifelong Sheffield United fan takes his Cardiff City side to the Steel City tomorrow for a contest that could have big ramifications for the Owls.

Just five games remain in the regular season and Wednesday sit sixth in the table, two points ahead of Fulham.

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With Huddersfield Town, Reading and Leeds United all odds-on to reach the play-offs, the scrap for sixth place seems to be between the S6 club and Slavisa Jokanovic’s Londoners.

Carlos Carvalhal tipped to guide Sheffield Wednesday to promotion by ex-Blades boss Neil Warnock

Warnock may be public enemy No 1 in S6 thanks to his affiliation with the Blades but he believes the Owls are well equipped to go one better than last season – providing they can see off Fulham during the run-in.

“I do believe whoever finishes sixth out of Wednesday or Fulham will be the team that goes up in the play-offs,” said the manager who holds the joint record for promotions in English football with seven.

“To finish sixth, either Wednesday or Fulham will have had to finish the season in good form. They can then take that into the play-offs. Momentum can be huge once they get under way.

“I also look at the others and they are not convincing at the moment. Garry Monk and David Wagner have done fantastic jobs but results have been a bit up and down lately – and I just don’t fancy Reading to beat anyone over two legs.

Will miss out in play-offs - Huddersfield Town and David Wagner.

“That, to me, leaves whoever finishes sixth. We played Sheffield Wednesday very early after I joined Cardiff and they are a good footballing team. It was a tough game for us but also a tough game for them, I would imagine. I am expecting it to be similar again at Hillsborough.”

That 1-1 draw in south Wales on October 19 lifted Wednesday into the top six for the first time this season. Give or take the odd week along the way, Carlos Carvalhal’s side have remained there ever since and the club’s destiny is very much in their own hands.

The same, though, can be said for Fulham due to the two clubs meeting at Hillsborough on the final day of the campaign.

With both teams also in action on Monday as the Owls travel to QPR and the Cottagers host in-form Aston Villa after travelling to Norwich City three days earlier, the promotion picture is likely to be clearer come the end of the holiday period.

Carlos Carvalhal tipped to guide Sheffield Wednesday to promotion by ex-Blades boss Neil Warnock

Warnock added: “I like Carlos, as he has been like a breath of fresh air in Sheffield since he arrived. He has built a good team, too.

“With Sheffield United winning promotion last weekend, everything is on the up at the moment in the city and that is great. Everyone is on a high because the two teams are doing well and that has to be good news for the city.

“If Wednesday don’t go up, we will have the Sheffield derby back next season and that would be great, too. It has been a long time since the last one so if both teams are in the Championship next season then there will be huge excitement.”

The Owls, of course, want to be playing Manchester City and Chelsea next term and not their neighbours from across Sheffield.

Will miss out in play-offs - Huddersfield Town and David Wagner.

Warnock will tomorrow be a barrier to those dreams as he looks to claim a second victory in as many visits to Hillsborough after last season’s 1-0 triumph with Rotherham United.

“I always look forward to going to Hillsborough,” added the Bluebirds chief. “This fixture is the one I look for first when either the fixtures come out or I join a club.

“I have spent all week getting my crash helmet fitted because I am bound to get abuse off the home fans. They love to give me a bit of an earful but I love it, too.

“Rotherham played really well there last season and deserved the win. I had a lot of family and friends at the game so it was nice to give them a result like that.”

Cardiff’s last visit to Yorkshire came a couple of months ago at Warnock’s former club Leeds United.

It proved to be a memorable first return to Elland Road since being sacked by United in 2013, as the Bluebirds triumphed 2-0.

For Leeds, that loss is one of only two games in the last dozen played on home soil that failed to result in Monk’s men claiming all three points – QPR having left with a point from a goalless draw last month.

Cardiff’s win at Elland Road underlines just how potentially dangerous tomorrow’s game – which will be Carvalhal’s 100th in charge of the south Yorkshire club – could be to Wednesday’s own top-six hopes.

Warnock added: “After beating Newcastle, Wednesday will be expected to beat a team in our position. People will see we are safe and think we have nothing to play for.

“But all games at this time of year can be tough for teams who are desperate for points. There is so much pressure on them.

“What I will say about our lads is we are a hard-working team. Limited in certain aspects, but even if we get beat I know the lads will have given me everything.

“As a manager, you can’t ask for any more than that. These are an honest bunch and we will give everything to get a result at Hillsborough.”