PNE v Sheff Wed: Owls rely on fan power

Wednesday winger Ross Wallace is set to face his former club Preston at Deepdale this weekend

Wednesday winger Ross Wallace is set to face his former club Preston at Deepdale this weekend

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Sheffield Wednesday defender Tom Lees believes the huge travelling band of supporters on Saturday can cheer the Owls to victory against Preston.

More than 5,000 fans are expected to make the trip across the Roses border for the Championship clash at Deepdale.

Housed in the Bill Shankly Kop, the visiting fans could prove to be an important factor for Carlos Carvalhal’s promotion chasing outfit.

“It is fantastic we are taking so many fans to Preston,” Lees said.

“I thought there was a lot of fans at Birmingham but there is going to be almost double that amount on Saturday.

“Our fans are so loud in every game but it is going to be deafening with more than 5,000 going to Preston.

“When you jog out on to the pitch and see that many fans in front of you, it gives you an extra push.

“It gives you that boost and you don’t want to disappoint them.

“We know it is a big game for us anyway and that will add to the occasion and make it an electric atmosphere.”

Wednesday are this season making a concerted effort to return to the Premier League – nearly 16 years after they last graced the top flight.

Years of mediocrity have been replaced by a growing sense of belief this campaign that Wednesday can finally end many years of pain.

Backed heavily by Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri – who took over the club last season – Wednesday have been active in the transfer market.

After appointing Carvalhal in the summer, Chansiri immediately back his new manager with his cheque book

Argentina’s Fernando Forestieri and Marco Matias, of Portugal, arrived from Watford and Nacional respectively for seven-figure sums, while 10-goal striker Gary Hooper was signed for £3m in Jnanuary from Norwich City after spending the previous couple of months on loan.

Carvalhal strengthened his squad even further last month with the acquisition of Republic of Ireland winger Aidan McGeady on loan from Everton.

Along with those players, Wednesday also have the threat of imposing 6ft 6in striker Atdhe Nuhiu to call upon, with former PNE winger Ross Wallace and 
ex-Aston Villa star Barry Bannan providing the service from midfield.

Wednesday are currently in fifth spot in the table – only six points below leaders Hull City .

Carvalhal’s men have been very strong at Hillsborough, but on their travels they have been solid rather than spectacular – something which has not gone unnoticed by Preston manager Simon Grayson.

“I have seen some of the stats and I think they have lost only once at home, but away from home they have been quite as effective,” said Grayson.

“But if you give opportunities to the likes of Forestieri and Hooper, they will punish you.

“I think they have got a good balance to their team.

“They have got Hooper, who can run in behind you.

“There’s the physical presence of the big lad up front Nuhui. Then there’s the ball-players like Forestieri, Bannan and Wallace.

“They have got a big squad as well and can mix it up if that is what they need to do.

“We are under no illusions that it’s not going to be an easy game for us.

“These are the games that as players you want to be involved in.

“You want to be testing yourselves against these kind of players.

“I think when they have played against the big players in this division, our players have all wanted to make sure that they are on top of their game.

“If they are not on top of their game, they will get found out and you can get embarrassed by good players.

“We have just got to try to put all the ingredients together, which has made us successful recently.”