Sheffield Wednesday have headed into the international break with a huge positive after defeating local rivals Barnsley 2-1 at Oakwell on Saturday.
The Tykes had won nine of their last 10 league games and were unbeaten in 12 before the visit of the Owls, but a selection masterstroke from Darren Moore meant that the promotion chasers’ run would be ended.
Jordan Rhodes netted a brace for Wednesday in the victory and he lined-up alongside Josh Windass and Callum Paterson in a three-pronged attack, which seemed to work very well for the Owls.
It certainly stopped Barnsley from being as effective as normal anyway – but now that game is done attentions must turn to the international break and beyond.
Moore still has a lot of work to do to get Wednesday out of danger, and 22nd-placed Rotherham’s win against Bristol City didn’t help matters, but they’re now six points from safety with a game in hand on Birmingham who sit just outside the danger zone.
With a two-week break coming up, let’s look at two concerns that Moore may have before Wednesday’s next game on Good Friday against Watford.
At the age of 36, Keiren Westwood can’t be expected to play every game for the Owls and he has missed spells this season due to injury.
The most recent issue cropped up in training last month when the Ireland international fractured his rib and was forced out of the next four games, but was back between the sticks for the previous two.
As Wednesday reporter Dom Howson noted, Westwood pulling up in the pre-match warm up isn’t an uncommon occurrence as it’s now happened multiple times, and the same happened again on Saturday, with the veteran having to be replaced by Joe Wildsmith.
Wildsmith did a good job but Westwood is the ever-reliable one and Moore will be hoping that he’s not forced onto the sidelines once more – but the international break should give him time to recuperate.
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How to combat Watford’s attack
The Owls’ next opponents after the break may have been pretty blunt in the first half of the season under Vladimir Ivic, but a switch to a more forward-thinking coach in Xisco Munoz has seen the Hornets reap the rewards.
Let’s be honest, with the squad he had at his disposal Ivic should have had Watford playing much better than they were before his December sacking, and Xisco’s arrival has brought better results, better football and more goals.
Moore came up with a plan to stop in-form Barnsley from playing their game, but now he faces a bigger task in trying to stop the likes of Joao Pedro, Ismaila Sarr, Isaac Success, Andre Gray and Ken Sema – all skilful players with pace and trickery in their locker.
Wednesday fans will be under no illusions that they face a tough ask to get anything out of the game, but they probably thought the same against Barnsley…