Adam Reach believes Sheffield Wednesday’s win at Newcastle United on Boxing Day proves the Owls are good enough to win automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Last season’s beaten Championship play-off finalists sit sixth – where they finished last term – but their stunning victory at St James’ Park has raised hopes inside S6 that they can claw back the top two of Brighton and Newcastle.
There is a nine-point gap between the Owls and the Geordies, but having won four of their last five matches, confidence is high at Wednesday.
Ahead of two games in three days, away to Preston today before a sell-out Hillsborough for Monday’s visit of Wolverhampton, £5m record signing Reach is full of optimism.
“I think in the next couple of weeks the gap between the top two and other teams will become smaller; that’s our aim,” said Reach.
“We have always believed we are good enough to finish in the top two, we just need to go out there and prove it now.
“It was a massive win (at Newcastle), to show to ourselves that we can win at places like St James’ Park.
“Our confidence is high, but we now have a couple of tough games coming up.
“I am a Newcastle fan so it was a dream to play at St James’ Park. It was even better to come away with a win.
“When I came here we were playing well, but in certain games it just wasn’t quite clicking.
“We have got that now, the team has settled a little bit more, everyone is fighting for their places, training is good and we are taking that into games. It’s all coming together.”
The Owls have already beaten Preston and Wolves in the last month, but a quirk of the fixture list means a swift reunion with each.
“Six points out of these next two games is what we are all looking to achieve,” said Reach, who swapped the Premier League with Middlesbrough to join Wednesday in August.
“We will be so disappointed if we drop points in these next two games after what we did at Newcastle.
“The three points is always up for grabs, no matter what time kick-off is, but it’s always nice on Boxing Day, under the floodlights, and on Sky.”
Reach will be on familiar turf today at Deepdale, having spent last season on loan at Preston.
He believes those displays helped persuade the Owls to splash out a club record transfer fee on his service.
The 23-year-old winger said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Preston. Maybe this move to Sheffield Wednesday would not have come about if I hadn’t done so well at Preston. They have had a similar season to the one last season. Not too far off the play-offs, and like many teams, think they can finish in the top six. It will be a tough game.
“It’s always a good atmosphere at Deepdale, but I think we have enough in the locker to come away with all three points.
“It’s strange to be playing them twice in the same month. I doubt there will be as much carnage and drama as there was at Hillsborough,” said Reach, of a game which saw three red cards.
“But it will be another tough game, although if we play anywhere near as well we did at St James’ Park, I think we will come away with another away victory. Under Simon Grayson, you always get a team who know what their job is and don’t try to do anything else. The team spirit and camaraderie is always good.
“They suffered a heavy result against Leeds, so they will be looking to bounce back.”
New Owls loan signing Callum McManaman will officially join tomorrow, but the West Brom winger has already trained with Wednesday and Reach welcomes the extra competition.
The 25-year-old will join the Owls for the rest of the season and bolsters Wednesday’s attacking options.
“Callum has come in already and you can see what he can do,” said Reach.
“He is very attack-minded, and will cause defences a lot of problems in the next few months.
“It’s more competition for me, but that can only benefit you. You always have to keep trying to improve and show the manager what you can do.
“If we can keep bolstering our squad, make it as strong as we can, I am sure we will have enough to challenge that top two.”
Reach has filled in at left-back this season, but is enjoying an extended run in his preferred role of winger.
“The more I am playing in the attacking role, the more I am settling into that position,” he said. “There’s always good balance with Ross (Wallace) on the other side.
“I am comfortable playing left-back, anywhere really, as long as I am playing.
“Now I have had a run of games further up the pitch, I am hoping to push on and grab my first goal, hopefully many more, and help the team win games.
“It always helps if goals can come from all over the pitch. Fletch and Nando (top scorers Steven Fletcher and Fernando Forestieri) will always get goals, it’s our job to chip in with a few ourselves.”
Today brings the second of three games in six days and the Owls have scaled back training to allow players to conserve energy.
“It’s tough (Christmas schedule), but you have to manage yourself during the days in training,” said Reach.
“We haven’t done much since the Newcastle game, and I wouldn’t imagine we will do much until the Preston game.
“You just need to keep all your energy and focus on the game.
“Once the game comes, if you are tired, any thought of that goes out of your mind. Then it’s another quick turnaround for the Wolves game.
“You just have to take care of yourself, what you eat and drink. It’s Christmas, so there’s a lot of sweets and chocolate flying about in people’s houses, but you have to look after yourself.”