Meet the Owls: A glaring weakness, young gun striker and the Luongo factor
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town travel to Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow afternoon for a big League One clash (3pm). Mark Heath takes a look at the Owls...
In a tale which will sound familiar to Town fans, Wednesday's biggest consistency so far this season has been their inconsistency.
They sit ninth in the table, a point and a place below Town, having won ten, drawn 10 and lost six of their 26 games. Draws, especially, have really hurt them.
They've enjoyed some good wins - 2-0 at Rotherham, 2-1 at Wigan and 3-0 over Sunderland - but have also been on the end of some heavy defeats - a 5-0 tonking at Sunderland on December 30 and two 3-0 losses at Plymouth (one in the FA Cup).
They started the season well, only losing once in August, but have been up and down since. Entering this match they've lost three of their last four.
True to form though, that win was an impressive 4-2 victory over fellow promotion-chasers Plymouth.
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Who knows which Wednesday will show up tomorrow.
One thing has been consistent for the Owls this season - their home form has been superb.
They've only lost once at home in the league all season, that lone defeat coming 2-1 at the hands of Oxford United - the side currently in the sixth and final play-off spot - all the way back on October 2.
Going to Hillsborough is always tough, of course, but against that backdrop a Town win tomorrow would be a real statement.
Wednesday have a real Achilles heel in terms of their defending of set-pieces - they've conceded 12 goals from that route, a third of their total goals allowed, so far this season.
Town haven't been particularly prolific from set-pieces themselves, but the stats suggest they may have success from corners and free-kicks tomorrow.
Moore on Ipswich
Owls boss Darren Moore has been impressed with what he's seen from new Town boss Kieran McKenna.
Meeting the media today, Moore said: "Kieran has done a great job since he arrived. He’s pushing them to a certain style and system.
"They’re a team looking to build consistency. Two big teams going head-to-head.
"They’re a different opposition under different management. They’re in good form with good players but we’ve got that here as well."
Ones to watch
Like Town, Wednesday are a side bristling with talent - but injuries have been an issue all season.
Lee Gregory is their leading scorer on eight goals, and will certainly pose a threat tomorrow.
But in terms of one to watch, a familiar face in midfield could pull the strings.
Australian Massimo Luongo, who spent time on loan at Town back in 2012, is a key figure for the Owls - when fit.
He's only played ten games all season, but has started - and played the full 90 minutes - in their last two games, that 4-2 win over Plymouth and an entertaining 3-2 reverse at Oxford United last time out.
Wednesday have only lost two of the games in which he's featured this campaign.
Asked about Luongo today, Moore said: "I know he has had his problems before but physically Mass is in the best position that he has been in.
"I was kicking myself after he picked up the Rotherham injury late on. He worked incredibly hard to get back.
"Will Massimo play all eight games in the month of February? No, because of the level of games and the quick turnaround. I can say that about other players.
"It is about maintaining his fitness and managing it the best we can."
Moore's been backed so far in January, adding experienced Championship centre-back Harlee Dean on loan from Birmingham, and fellow centre-half Jordan Storey, also on loan, from Preston. Storey's likely to start tomorrow.
But the most exciting capture of the window so far has been England U21 striker Tyreece John-Jules, signed on loan from Arsenal.
While he's yet to make his Gunners' debut, John-Jules has featured in matchday squads for the Premier League giants.
He's also played for Lincoln, Doncaster and Blackpool on loan - making 12 appearances for the Seasiders in the first half of this campaign.
The 20-year-old, who could well make his debut up top alongside Gregory tomorrow, played for Moore at Doncaster.
Asked about his new striker earlier, Moore said: "He's a number nine. I have worked with him before. He scores goals.
"I am pleased to add him to the group."