Heat is rising for Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday in Championship promotion stakes

Ivo Pinto goes on the attack for Norwich City against Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season.
Pict

Ivo Pinto goes on the attack for Norwich City against Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season. Picture: Sean Dempsey/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Sean Dempsey/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil knows what is on the line at Sheffield Wednesday but believes the Owls are under the same intense pressure as the Championship promotion race reaches a climax.

Former Norwich City striker Gary Hooper has struggled to force his way into the Owls' line up. Pictu

Former Norwich City striker Gary Hooper has struggled to force his way into the Owls' line up. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

City have a six-point gap to cut and with nearest play-off rivals Fulham hosting Preston it could be a pivotal afternoon.

'You are never going to hide the importance of this type of game. The fans know it, the players know it,' he said. 'I don't think it is the be all and end all. There is a lot of football to play afterwards but we know the relevance of it and if we come away with the three points they will be a big three points. We are positive and focused on the result. There is pressure on every team. Look at Derby and Steve (McClaren), they went nine or 10 without losing and are now struggling for a win. What is the rhyme or reason for that because it is the same players? Every team has their peaks and troughs and ours lasted a lot longer than it should have.

'There is pressure on Sheffield Wednesday, they have not been short on spending some money on players but you could arguably say that about seven or eight teams. I'm not sure they are the extent of Aston Villa and Newcastle, because those teams came down with a Premier League wage bill to start with and have spent on top of that, but look at the amount of funds in the Championship and it is incredible. Players are going for double figures in the market.'

Neil revealed he has dipped back into the archive to watch City's 0-0 home league draw, but predicts Carlos Carvalhal's men will go for the jugular.


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'I've watched a lot of their recent games as well as our one,' he said. 'The Brentford defeat last time out at home was one of the most open I have seen in quite a while. At home they really do throw caution to the wind and are really aggressive and go for it. It could make for a really open game. I would be surprised if they play cagey. They have a couple missing, (Kieran) Lee in the middle of the park makes forward runs and that is an area they are struggling to fill and (Tom) Lees the centre-back being out has not helped. We have got lads suitable for any style. I always harp back to Reading and Brentford because I think we should have won those away games. The difficulties have come at Burton or Rotherham, but there won't be any hangover in this game.'

The Owls have lost the last two and scored only once, despite some enviable firepower to draw on.

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'The fact they play two up means you need more than three options but they had six at one stage. The problem is you can only play two of them,' said Neil. 'That is a test of the manager. I have players who are frustrated and they want to play but it means you have to take a really good player out of the team to accommodate them. It is about the manager making a decision on what you see day to day and game to game to make the difference.'

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