Derby v Sheffield Wednesday: Wednesday’s hopes resting on a ‘mini-season’

Sheffield Wednesday embark on a five-game run in the next two weeks which head coach Stuart Gray believes will define their season.

Owls boss Stuart Gray

A six-match winless sequence has seen the Owls fall into mid-table ahead of today’s trip to third-placed Derby.

Wednesday are 13 points adrift of sixth-placed Norwich City with 15 games remaining and their hopes of gatecrashing the play-offs could be determined in the next fortnight.

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After today, Wednesday travel to Millwall on Tuesday, face a Hillsborough double-header against Championship leaders Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers before a trip to basement club Blackpool.

“We’ve got five games in two weeks which I would class as a mini-season where we’ve got to really go for the push,” said Gray.

“We’ve got five games in the next two weeks and the squad will be stretched to its limit.

“We will know by the end of the fifth game whether we will be pushing for the play-offs or whether we are going to finish mid-table.

“I’ve told the players ‘let’s go for it’. There are 15 points to play for so let’s go for it.

“Nobody gives us a chance at Derby so we go there as the underdogs but we have to make sure we put in a better performance than what we did when we were last away.”

Gray has been frustrated in his efforts to bring in a Premier League striker/winger but hopes to make a loan signing before Tuesday’s trip to Millwall.

“It is difficult to get players in because of injuries and suspensions at other clubs,” he admitted.

“It doesn’t look like we are going to have any business done before Saturday. Hopefully, we will have some business done before Tuesday.

“You are always relying on a club to say ‘yes you can have a player for 28 days or the rest of the season’. Clubs are not letting them out.”

Raul Albentosa (back) is in contention for a return to the Derby squad. Leading scorer Chris Martin (knee) and forward Johnny Russell (hamstring) are out.