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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Talented Terriers can spring surprise at Hillsborough

Huddersfield can move one step closer to Premier League

Huddersfield crowd out Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Ross Wallace
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Sky Bet Championship playoffs semi-final second leg
Sky Sports 3, 7.45pm Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday might have thought they did the hard part by holding Huddersfield to a 0-0 draw in Sunday's Sky Bet Championship playoff semi-final first leg at the John Smith's Stadium but there could be a sting in the tail at Hillsborough as the Terriers look capable of achieving a surprise victory.

Fifteen of Huddersfield's 25 league wins this season have been at home.

But they are a dangerous side on their travels and have triumphed away to four of the top ten teams, including a 2-1 success at champions Newcastle.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium in the first leg but Huddersfield dominated the game, earning a 69 per cent share of possession and bossing the shot count by 12 to three.

The Owls were pushed further back as the game went on and manager Carlos Carvalhal made a tactical switch midway through the second half, bringing midfielder David Jones on for wide man Ross Wallace to try to stem the flow of Huddersfield attacks.

By the finish it was a case of job done for Wednesday but they had to work very hard for the result and the swift turnaround may be more of an issue for them than for Huddersfield.

After failing to register a shot on target, Wednesday will be under pressure to play more on the front foot.

Their great strength is at the back and they have been praised by Huddersfield manager David Wagner, who described them as "one of the best defensive teams in the division".

Wednesday have played Huddersfield three times this season and kept three clean sheets but there will be pressure for them to come out of their shell in front of a big home crowd.

Carvalhal has plenty of attacking options with strikers Jordan Rhodes, Sam Winnall and Atdhe Nuhiu all hoping to come into the starting line-up but the midfield is where they are likely to be found wanting.

Huddersfield's midfield pair Aaron Mooy and Jonathan Hogg excelled in the first leg and are players Wagner will rely on to lay the foundation for an away win.

There was a lack of space for Huddersfield's fleet-footed attackers Elias Kachunga, Rajiv van La Parra and Nahki Wells on Sunday but the trio could be more effective at Hillsborough if Wednesday play higher up the pitch.

Wednesday's supporters expect their team to dominate home matches and a more ambitious approach should help their forwards Fernando Forestieri and Steven Fletcher, who were isolated figures three days ago.

However, going on the offensive could play to the counter-attacking strengths of Huddersfield, who are worth backing to move one step closer to a first promotion to the Premier League.

Huddersfield to qualify
1pt 6-4 bet365, Ladbrokes

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Team news
Sheffield Wednesday
Sam Hutchinson missed the first leg with a knee injury but should be available. Gary Hooper (hamstring) is unlikely to feature.

First-choice keeper Danny Ward should return from suspension at the expense of Joel Coleman. Phillip Billing, Jon Gorenc Stankovic (both knee) and Kasey Palmer (hamstring) are out.

Key stat
Sheffield Wednesday have kept one clean sheet in their last nine home games.

Midfield pair Aaron Mooy and Jonathan Hogg excelled in the first leg and are players Wagner will rely on to lay the foundation for an away win
E.W. Terms
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