Yorkshire's three-way promotion battle adds extra spice for Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson

SHEFFIELD Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson admits the presence of three Yorkshire clubs in the play-off places is bringing an extra edge to the Championship promotion race.

BATTLE: Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson tussles with Huddersfield Town's Nahki Wells. Picture: Steve Ellis

The Owls host Brentford this evening knowing that victory will be enough to move up to fourth place on a night when Huddersfield Town tackle Reading at the John Smith’s Stadium.

It is a big night in the race for the Premier League, which also features Leeds United, who host the Owls this weekend in front of the live Sky Sports TV cameras.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hutchinson, part of the Wednesday side that went so agonisingly close to winning promotion last season, is determined that head coach Carlos Carvalhal’s men will prevail this time around in what is shaping up to be a White Rose shoot-out in May with Reading also looking to claim a place among the elite.

Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson. Picture: Steve Ellis

Asked if Wednesday fighting it out with two neighbours was bringing an extra edge to the scrap for promotion, Hutchinson replied: “Probably, yes. If we are honest, we always expected to be up there.

“But Leeds and Huddersfield are the surprise package that we were last season. You never know what you will get from both of them. But they have just carried on winning games and that puts pressure on us.

“If we can get these three points against Brentford, it will be all to play for on Saturday at Leeds.”

Having had to endure the heartache of losing an all-Yorkshire play-off final to Hull City last May, Wednesday will be even more desperate to avoid a repeat this time around.

Sam Hutchinson with Kieran Lee. Picture: Steve Ellis

Victory over Brentford tonight would see Carvalhal’s men leapfrog Leeds in the table and set up nicely a weekend derby at Elland Road that will be watched by a 30,000-plus crowd.

Hutchinson, who started his career at Chelsea, added: “Of course the fans feel it that bit more. And no one likes Leeds, do they? Chelsea certainly didn’t. No one likes them, for some reason.

“No, seriously, it will be a great game. It is a derby (at Leeds) and that brings an extra bit of passion.

“We are not speaking about it yet because Brentford is our focus, but it is a game to look forward to.”

Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson. Picture: Steve Ellis

Tom Lees is again missing tonight for Wednesday, but Morgan Fox could return after missing the weekend victory at Nottingham Forest with an ankle problem. Gary Hooper returned to action with the Under-23s yesterday and scored in a 2-1 defeat to Crewe Alexandra to hand Carvalhal a timely boost ahead of this week’s double-header.

Hutchinson, for his part, is hoping the Hillsborough faithful can be at their raucous best tonight after what was a rather flat feel to proceedings a week ago when Blackburn Rovers were beaten 2-1.

“The last game was difficult because the fans got on our backs straight away,” added the Owls midfielder. “Some people do feel that. They are great fans, obviously, but we do need them to get behind us because those first 10 minutes were a struggle.

“This is a hard league. There has been a change this season (at home games) in that the fans expect. When you do well at any club, fans always expect it.

Sam Hutchinson with Kieran Lee. Picture: Steve Ellis

“We are a big club and have spent a lot of money. So, I get that pressure. They are entitled to voice their opinion.”

Carvalhal is also hoping the Owls fans can give his players a big lift from the stands.

“Brentford did not play last weekend so they will be fresh,” added the Portuguese.

“I ask our fans to understand the situation and try to lift the team with better support, compared to our last game at home.

“Our fans can help the team a little bit more. If the fans can support our players, they will have good energy. Behaviour makes behaviour.

“If there are people shouting at them or are silent, they perform in one way. If all the time the people give good feedback, clap and understand the mistakes while pushing them to do better and better, everyone works better.

“That is normal and why I ask our fantastic fans to push our players against Brentford.”

Wednesday have won their last four games and another triumph tonight would move Carvalhal’s men 10 points clear of Norwich City in seventh place. It will also keep alive hopes of a late surge for the top two, especially as the Owls have the benefit of last season’s run-in to fall back on.

“I hope that experience helps us,” added Hutchinson, who since returning to central midfield in mid-November has only finished on the losing side twice. “But you just never know.

“Football is such a funny game. You can get to the play-offs and you just don’t know what will happen. If I am honest, I haven’t looked at the table at all. We just concentrate on ourselves because if we keep winning then we will be where we are.

“By looking at the table, you can’t change anything. You have to go out every game and perform, that’s that. Brentford away was one of the best we have played, but we only drew. We want to get the three points and keep the run going.”

Last six games: Sheffield Wednesday WLDWWWW Brentford LLWDLL.

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).

Last time: Sheffield Wednesday 4 Brentford 0; February 13, 2016; Championship.