Sheffield Wednesday winger Ross Wallace is determined to avoid another fortnight of Hillsborough misery when he faces former club Preston today.
For just before the last time the Owls had a two-week lay-off for international games, they crashed to a 3-1 home loss to Middlesbrough on August 29.
Since then, performances and results have markedly improved meaning Wednesday head into this afternoon’s game looking to extend their unbeaten run to five matches.
Back-to-back Championship wins against Fulham and Brentford – sandwiched either side of a League Cup victory at Newcastle United – have instilled new levels of optimism at S6 and Wallace is eager not to let that evaporate.
“Middlesbrough was the last game before the last international break,” said Wallace. “That was a hard international break, as it was after a poor performance.
“Confidence is really good. I think we can achieve more – we have more in the tank to give – and we can play even better.
“The main thing is we are getting results.”
The Owls sit just three points behind third-placed Reading, but Wallace says there has been no dressing room talk of a top-six challenge just yet.
He said: “We have not been talking about it (top six), it’s very early doors.
“We are just looking at, can we build on what we have done in the last three games?
“Maybe after Christmas, we can start looking at those things.
“At Sunderland, we were right out of it, then January-February time went on an unbelievable run and ended up winning the league.
“It’s very early days to say we are in the race to achieve something. But it’s definitely something we want to achieve come the end of the season.”
Today the Owls face Preston – where Wallace played for from 2008-2010 – and who were promoted last season alongside MK Dons and Bristol City.
All three clubs occupy the current relegations spots in the Championship, but Wallace has ruled out any complacency in the Owls ranks.
“On paper, people will look at it and say it’s a banker for us,” he said.
“But us as players, and staff, know that’s not the case.
“Championship games are as tough as it comes. Look at the second half at Brentford, they had a right go with 10 men.
“We know it will be a tough game, but we are confident and are playing well.
“We are just looking at it as another game. We have a big squad, training has been really sharp, and the boys are all fighting to get in the team.
“The key is to get momentum, a bit of confidence and get the fans behind us. That was our aim at the start of the season.
“We have had a good week and it’s important we continue that on Saturday.”
Preston’s only Championship win so far this season came at MK Dons, and Wallace – who left Deepdale for Burnley in 2010 – admits he still looks out for their results.
He said: “I have good memories there. It was a small squad, a tight squad.
“We managed to get to the play-offs one season. The fans were good to me.
“I look out for the results of former clubs, everybody does.
“They did unbelievably well last year to get promoted, and have started well this season but had a tricky last couple of weeks.
“They will be looking to put things right this weekend and it will be difficult game.
“They had a massive clear-out when I was there - the Alan Irvine era - so there aren’t any players I know.”
Wallace has been a key performer for Wednesday, netting once and providing a constant threat with set-pieces and crosses.
“I feel confident, but it’s not just about me, it’s the whole team, we have played well,” he said.
“I have managed to get a few assists in the last couple of weeks. We have got some big boys in the team, attacking the ball.
“It’s important that if my delivery is right, we have a chance to score.
“We have got Tom Lees and Michael Turner coming up from the back too.
“These boys are coming up for corners thinking they are going to score.”
Today the Owls could come up against former striker Stevie May, who joined North End in the summer after a frustrating spell in South Yorkshire.
The 22-year-old arrived at Hillsborough last summer with high expectations following a goal-laden spell in his native Scotland.
But he struggled in front of goal - netting just seven Championship goals - and was allowed to leave following the arrival of Fernando Forestieri.
Head coach Carlos Carvalhal revealed May wanted to leave in search of regular football.
“He was one of the players who wanted to play regular,” he said.
“As soon as he told me that, I wasn’t going to stand in his way.
“He came with a lot of expectations and having scored a lot of goals in Scotland.
“At that moment, I started to talk to the chairman to try and find a player for the same position.
“We had expectations with Fernando and he came in.
“We got an offer so it was natural. He wanted to play, we got a player in that position so he went to Preston to be happy.”
May has yet to score for Preston this term, and Carvalhal knows the ‘unwritten laws of football’ mean he could break his duck on his Hillsborough return.
“He will give the maximum but so we will,” he said.
“He is a good player so we have got to keep an eye on him.
“They have good players in attack who are very dangerous so we must be careful with them.
“But we never worry about one player speficially and we will not do it in the future.
“We will play our game and give our maximum.”