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Barry Bannan's importance, latest team news and how Sheffield Wednesday will approach League One play-off clash against Sunderland

Sunderland are preparing to face Sheffield Wednesday in the League One play-offs – but what can they expect from Darren Moore’s side?

Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 4:45 pm

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To find out more heading into Friday’s first leg at the Stadium of Light, we caught up with Wednesday reporter Joe Crann from our sister title the Sheffield Star to get the inside track on The Owls:

What has Wednesday’s form been like?

JC: “Generally, pretty good. We've scored plenty of goals on the whole, and they've dug deep when they've needed to in order to get a result - other than in the Wycombe game when they just weren't able to bang down the door.

Sheffield Wednesday captain Barry Bannan. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images)

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"We're third in the form table when looking at the last 10 games, with only one loss, but we've been a lot better at home this season than we have away. The game at the Stadium of Light is a big test.”

We’ve heard a lot about Barry Bannan - just how important is he?

JC: “He's been vital. If you look at all the key stats this season, Bannan is either top or second. He leads in assists, passes, key passes and dribbles, and as the club's main creator he is integral to the whole way that Wednesday play.

"Other key players that stand out are top scorer Lee Gregory, and Bannan's midfield partner, Massimo Luongo, both of whom I don't think would look out of place in the Championship.”

How would you sum up the job Darren Moore has done?

JC: “The impressive work Moore has done has been as much off the field as on it.

"We've finished fourth, and the football in the second half of the season has been great to watch, but possibly more impressive is the way that he's managed to bridge the gap between the club and the fans, and how drama-less this season has been after the carnage of the last campaign.

"Missing out on promotion would be a huge blow, but a fourth-place finish when you take into account the injuries, the Covid-19 situation and the quality of the top teams in this league is pretty respectable.”

What formation will Wednesday play?

JC: It'll be 3-5-2, I'm almost certain. You can never say 100 per cent, but Moore hasn't shifted from it for some time now, and it's the formation that got us to where we are now.

“I think the away leg may be slightly cautious, and a lot could depend on whether Bannan is available or not, but either way I don't think it'll be anywhere near as open as the two league games.”

What’s your predicted line-up?

JC: “Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jordan Storey, Sam Hutchinson, Liam Palmer, Jack Hunt, Massimo Luongo, George Byers, Barry Bannan, Marvin Johnson, Saido Berahino, Lee Gregory.

“There's a chance he might bring Harlee Dean back into the fold in defence, and he may look to Callum Paterson for a physical battle up top. There are also question marks over Bannan's fitness, so we'll have to wait and see on that.”