Sheffield Weds v Bolton: Fans' dismissive talk is concern for Carvalhal

HEAD COACH Carlos Carvalhal has issued a warning to Sheffield Wednesday supporters, imploring them not to consider victory over rock-bottom Bolton Wanderers as a foregone conclusion this evening.

Sheffield Wednesday's head coach Carlos Carvalhal.

The Owls, who could move into the play-off places with victory, boast an 11-match unbeaten record in all competitions at Hillsborough heading into tonight’s game with the beleaguered visitors, the only Football League club without an away win this season.

Carvalhal is conscious that plenty of talk among Wednesdayites is currently preoccupied with Saturday’s home derby with Leeds United. But the Portuguese is urging that fans do not get sidetracked.

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The Owls’ boss – who remained tight-lipped on reports that Bolton midfielder Mark Davies is on the verge of joining the club – is acutely aware that the Owls have been beaten by relegation-threatened MK Dons and Charlton Athletic already this season.

Sheffield Wednesday's head coach Carlos Carvalhal.

Carvalhal, who will assess the fitness of top-scorer Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper ahead of the game, said: “I can feel the heart of the fans in different ways.

“So when people start talking about the game on Saturday with a lot of enthusiasm and forget that we have a very important match against Bolton, something is wrong.

“Also with our players, we are completely focused. The challenge to our fans, who love the club, is to tell them that it will be a very tough game and not an easy game. There are not easy games in the Championship.

“Even though Bolton are in this position, they have some quality players and will do the best they can. It will be a tough game for us.

Sheffield Wednesday's head coach Carlos Carvalhal.

“We must focus on the game against Bolton, it is a very important game.

“We don’t talk about that (Leeds) game at the club until after Bolton.

“We will be completely ready for this (Bolton) game and I hope our fans will be.

“This means that the special fans who go to the stadium support the team and understand that they are not easy games.

“It will be a tough game and we need the support of our fans. I hope everybody understands this message.

“It is the most important game of the season, because it is the next one.

“If the fans can be at the maximum to support us, we will be stronger for sure. If everyone thinks it will be an easy game, I am sure it will be very difficult as we are not the best team in the world.”

The start of the new year has already enhanced the feel-good factor prevalent at Hillsborough since the autumn, with the Owls having posted back-to-back wins over Fulham in both league and FA Cup.

Carvalhal is the first to admit that the Owls have come a long way, more especially at Hillsborough where they are unbeaten since August 29, with entertainment back on the menu after the dearth of previous seasons

But he says plenty more work is required with the club still “outsiders’”in the promotion stakes.

Carvalhal, whose seventh-placed side were in 18th spot after the 0-0 draw at Bolton on September 15, added: “My first wish was to play attractive football so the fans come and enjoy the games and we win.

“We give a big problem for other teams to play at Hillsborough and it is something we are very proud of and hope to continue so that it is a place which is not comfortable for our opponents to play.

“But we are still (promotion) outsiders; nothing changes. You win nothing in January, March or April. In May, everything will be decided.”

Owls captain Glenn Loovens has revealed that he has held initial talks with the club about a new deal, with the Dutchman confident that he can secure a positive outcome.

Loovens, 32, whose contract expires in June, said: “I have had a few talks with the boss, so hopefully we will get something sorted. It is still early doors, but I think all the signs are there.

“We have a good group of players here with no egos in the team and everyone is enjoying their football. If you enjoy football, you will win games and if you do that, everyone is happy.

“That’s the way it works and everyone is happy to stay, which says a lot.

“With the position we are in now, we are pushing for things, with better things to come. Everybody wants to be part of this.”

Carvalhal remains confident that the official confirmation of a contract extension with midfield talisman Barry Bannan is not far off, with the conversion of Jack Hunt’s loan into a permanent move also looking imminent.

He said: “The information I have (on Bannan) is almost everything is sorted, but it’s not official and in my hands. We must wait, but I think it is in a good way.”

On the situation with Hunt, he added: “It is very near to close everything. It is good to us and we have two players with very good quality in that position as we have seen with Liam Palmer in the last two games in which he has played very well.”

Last six games: Sheffield Wednesday LWWLWW, Bolton DDLWLD.

Referee: S Hooper (Wiltshire).

Last time: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Bolton 2; January 17, 2015; Championship.