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Sunderland’s Alex Neil hints at Sheffield Wednesday, Barry Bannan mind games

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Sunderland boss Alex Neil has claimed that Sheffield Wednesday captain Barry Bannan will be fit for the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final on Friday but that the Owls will make out he isn’t. 

The fifth-placed Black Cats host fourth-place Wednesday at the Stadium of Light tomorrow evening, with the second leg set to be played at Hillsborough on Monday.

Bannan has been a key figure in helping Darren Moore’s side reach the play-offs this term – scoring nine goals and providing 12 assists on his way to a League One Player of the Season nomination – but was forced off in their 4-1 win over Portsmouth on the final day of the season.

The Yorkshire club have kept tightlipped about the fitness of their skipper ahead of tomorrow’s game but, speaking to Phil Smith from the Sunderland Echo, Neil hinted that there may be some mind games being played.

“I’m sure Sheffield Wednesday will make out Bannan won’t be fit,” said the Black Cats boss.

“He’ll be fit.”

Sunderland have a key injury concern of their own with in-form forward Nathan Broadhead racing to recover from the injury that saw him last just 26 minutes against Morecambe on the final day – a game in which he scored the only goal.

Neil has indicated that a late call will be made on Broadhead ahead of Friday’s game.

The Verdict

We’ve reached the real business end of the season and there are plenty of mind games going on ahead of the meeting of these two League One juggernauts.

Bannan has been vital for the Owls this term and his absence would be a massive blow at the Stadium of Light.

Given his importance and the planning that the Black Cats are likely doing in an attempt to stop him, it’s no surprise that Wednesday have been tightlipped up to this point.

Hopefully, both the Owls skipper and Broadhead are fit for Friday’s game so we can see the two sides at their best really battling it out.

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London-based sports journalist at Snack Media EFL accredited, graduate of New Associates and the University of Brighton

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Sunderland’s Alex Neil hints at Sheffield Wednesday, Barry Bannan mind games

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