Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal is eagerly looking forward to a Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final showdown against Brighton after they wrapped up their league campaign with a 2-1 defeat against Wolves at Molineux.
Carvalhal will unleash his big guns against the Seagulls having made 10 changes to the Owls’ line-up against a Wolves team who ended a run of four successive 0-0 home draws with a first win in front of their own fans since beating Bristol City 2-1 on March 8.
A seventh-minute own goal from Michael Turner put Wolves in control and George Saville’s 35th-minute strike doubled their advantage before Lewis McGugan grabbed a last-minute consolation from the spot.
Carvalhal said: “Brighton will be a strong opponent, like all of the teams in the play-offs, but each of the four teams has a 25 per cent chance.
“We have drawn against them both times this season in balanced games and we understand we are playing a top team but I think we are a better team now than in the past.
“We have a positive environment. We will be underdogs but that can be a positive for us.
“We finished the season very healthy, very fresh, very strong mentally and physically because we managed the squad well over the season.
“Our team will be ready. It is a challenge and an opportunity and we have a strong attitude.”
Despite the defeat against Wolves, Carvalhal defended his decision to make 10 changes and added: “There are a lot of positives from the afternoon.
“The negative is the score of course and the way that we played for the first 20 to 30 minutes.
“Some of the players have not played 90 minutes for a long time and the co-ordination in the beginning was not perfect and Wolves scored two goals.
“But the second half it was very strong from my team, the way we reacted and tried to win the game. We scored and finished the game very positively.
“We are finishing the game more fresh than our opponents, physically and emotionally, even with players who are not used to playing 90 minutes.
“We needed to give these players an opportunity because now they will be more ready, having played 90 minutes today, if we need them in the play-offs.”
Wednesday fell behind when central defender Turner deflected Matt Doherty’s left-wing cross into his own net in the seventh minute.
Doherty was also the creator of Wolves’ second when he rolled a centre into the path of Saville who made no mistake from 14 yards.
McGugan made no mistake with his penalty after Doherty had handled Liam Palmer’s cross.
While Wednesday have a chance to reach the Barclays Premier League, Wolves boss Kenny Jackett has been left to reflect on a season of under achievement - and he has vowed to do better next term.
He said: “A win is always important whatever situation you are in and we are delighted to get that. It was a nervy last few minutes after the penalty but credit to the players for seeing it through.
“Now for us it is about the summer, capitalising on the strengths that we have in the side and then addressing the quite obvious weaknesses that we have.
“We have been a halfway side this year and we want to aspire to be better than that.
“We were hoping to be competing and we have not threatened the top six enough.
“As I said we have strengths in the squad and we have to capitalise on those.
“We have to make sure that we are strong enough and deep enough to go through when we don’t have emergency loans next season.
“We know where we need to improve and we will be working towards that but, with the club up for sale, the financial parameters are not clear at the moment.
“I think Wolves is a fantastic club and when you play well and the fans are optimistic it generates a fantastic atmosphere and that is a challenge but one I am desperate to replicate next year.
“But we have to be under no illusions that to get ourselves close to a top-six side we have to improve because in the end that was Sheffield Wednesday’s second team today.”
Wolverhampton: Ikeme, Iorfa, Batth, Hause, Doherty, Coady, Price, Saville, Henry, Mason, Wallace. Subs: Edwards, Byrne, Martinez, Deslandes, Le Fondre, Hunte, Enobakhare.
Sheff Wed: Wildsmith, Palmer, Turner, Sasso, Helan, McGeady, Semedo, McGugan, Marco Matias, Lucas Joao, Nuhiu. Subs: Loovens, Hooper, Lopez, Hunt, Price, Bannan, Stobbs.
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
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