SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY goalkeeper Cameron Dawson is targeting an FA Cup upset at Swansea City tonight, which he believes will restore the feel-good factor at Hillsborough following a fraught season.
The Owls, Yorkshire’s sole remaining representative in the competition, will be seeking to maintain White Rose interest with progression in this evening’s televised fifth-round replay (kick-off 8.05pm) by booking a place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1997.
Sheffield-born Dawson, in goal for Wednesday’s last three Cup matches and who kept a clean-sheet against the Swans on home soil ten days ago, also feels that being in the hat for the last eight would have a positive spin-off effect for the Owls’ league campaign.
As it stands, head coach Jos Luhukay’s side hold a seven-point buffer above the drop zone and still have work to do to secure their second-tier status, especially after a run of just three wins in their last 18 league matches.
On Wednesday’s need for a catalyst ahead of the run-in, Dawson said: “The FA Cup is a great competition, with the history of it, and if we win this game we are in the quarter-finals with a big game to come.
“It has not probably been the season that we hoped for. It would mean a lot to the feelgood factor around this place. Hopefully we can go to Swansea and try and get something.
“A bit of feelgood factor and a bit of positivity around the place can hopefully help breed wins in the league as well.”
Both sides head into tonight’s replay in Wales on the back of weekend defeats that saw them concede four goals, with Wednesday going down 4-2 at home to Aston Villa and former Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal’s side being thrashed 4-1 at Brighton.
Victory for either this evening would repair some of that damage mindful that a home quarter-final would await against either Tottenham Hotspur or Rochdale, whose replay takes place at Wembley tomorrow night.
With Spurs heavily fancied to progress, Wednesday – should they also go through at Swansea’s expense – would be afforded a potentially mouth-watering last eight fixture and their first home quarter-final since March 1997.
Dawson said: “The FA Cup is the sort of competition where to go away from home is quite hard. But if you can get through that to get a home tie then anything can happen.
“You saw a couple of years ago with the Arsenal (League Cup) game. We have an important game against Swansea and hopefully we can get the result and then look forward to a big tie.”
On facing former boss Carvalhal, he added: “He did a great job. We made a play-off final and a semi-final. He gave me my debut.
“He had a nice moment coming back to Hillsborough, but now he will be in his home place and we will have to try and go there and get a result. But we will back ourselves to do that. We want to get a positive result after Saturday and knock Carlos out of the Cup.”
Luhukay is the first to acknowledge that his side are firm underdogs ahead of their third successive Tuesday night fixture and fifth since he arrived in early January.
The heavy fixture schedule has been made all the more problematic by the club’s long list of injury absentees, although some good news is afforded Luhukay with Liam Palmer and Almen Abdi back in the fray this evening.
But the game comes too soon for Tom Lees, Sam Hutchinson and Joost van Aken, with the latter two requiring game time in forthcoming development squad matches before being considered for first-team selection.
On tonight’s replay against a Swans side seeking their sixth successive home win under Carvalhal, Luhukay said: “We, as a Championship club, go to their ground and they are the favourites. We must try from the underdog position to play a good game and to get into the next round.
“I think the team has very good character to put in a good performance. I am not afraid that we will not put in a good game.
“We want to win, but so do Swansea. We do not play at home where our fans give us support and more energy and motivation. The motivation must come from inside. We must have a lot of passion to get to the next round.”
Last six games: Swansea WDWWDL Sheffield Wednesday LDWDLL.
Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).
Last time: Swansea 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0; March 13, 2010; Championship.