Bruce ready for volatile derby

Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce knows that he will be given a hostile reception by Sheffield United fans in Monday's Steel City derby.

Bruce was a player-manager of the Blades during the 1998/99 season but has never been involved in a Sheffield derby before.

The former Manchester United defender has enjoyed a varied and successful managerial career since leaving Bramall Lane but insists he is ready for anything the Blades supporters have in store for him.

He said: "I'm a Newcastle fan and I managed Sunderland. I managed Birmingham and went to [Aston] Villa.

"It was 20 years ago I managed [Sheffield] United. I was player-manager to start with so it was an incredibly long time ago. When you have been doing it as long as me [management], the one thing you can guarantee is that you are going to get a bit of stick.

"I'm looking forward to whatever they call me. I'm sure they will have something up their sleeves but, as long as it is given in the right way, I will have a chuckle afterwards."

Sheffield United are third in the Championship table but will move up a place if they win Monday's match. The Owls are 14th but a victory in the derby clash would lift Bruce's team to within four points of the play-offs.

Wednesday are 11/4 to win the derby at Hillsborough on Monday while a United victory is available at 23/20. The Blades are 8/15 to be promoted this season.

Zola hints at Higuain role

Chelsea assistant boss Gianfranco Zola has hinted that new loan signing Gonzalo Higuain could be involved in the FA Cup clash with Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Argentina international has linked up with the Blues after spending the first half of the season with AC Milan, having been loaned out to the Rossoneri after falling down the pecking order at Juventus.

And he may yet be pitched straight into the action, with the Blues set to make a number of changes to the side who reached the Carabao Cup final at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday evening.

Zola told reporters: "It is an opportunity and there are players that need to be rested, but we haven't discussed it yet.

"Everybody knows his best quality is his goalscoring record. He can score in many ways and I'm sure there are a lot of expectations on him. I'm also sure he is used to it as he has played for big clubs.

"He has always produced good numbers wherever he has been. This is not a team that is desperate, but it needs to add certain qualities to what it already has.

"He is coming in late, but he is playing in a system that he is used to and the type of players we have will help him to achieve his best. The conditions are good."

Higuain can be backed at 4/6 to score at any time against the Owls at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Chelsea 11/2 to win the game 2-0 and 4/5 to keep a clean sheet.

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Adkins warns against complacency

Hull City manager Nigel Adkins has demanded that his players do not get carried away by their excellent recent run.

The Tigers, who host Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, have won their last five Championship matches and have moved up to 13th in the table.

Hull are 11/10 to beat the Owls and 15/2 to win the match 2-1.

Adkins is expecting a tough Yorkshire derby against Wednesday who have appointed Steve Bruce as their next manager.

The South Yorkshire side are 16th in the table and 25/1 to be relegated this term.

"It will be a tough game and they have a squad of really good players with quite a strong attacking force," said Adkins.

"There has been a change of manager there and Steve Bruce will come in next month, but his coaching staff are already in there so the methods of how they want to go and perform are being put in place.

"They're on a good run of form themselves and they've brought a few players back into it, Keiren Westwood for example who had been left out in the cold a little bit.

"There's a spirit about them as well, so we know it's going to be challenging. We've been on a good run of form but we can't have any complacency kicking in."

Bruce confirmed as Wednesday boss

Sheffield Wednesday have confirmed that Steve Bruce will take over as the club's new manager, starting work on 1st February.

Dutchman Jos Luhukay left the Championship club in December after less than a year in charge and Bruce, who left Aston Villa earlier this season, had been strongly tipped to take over at Hillsborough.

Now that has been confirmed by the club, Bruce taking over next month with his assistants Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence taking charge in the meantime.

A club statement read: "Steve Bruce brings a first class CV to Hillsborough, with an outstanding success rate of Championship promotions – four to date,"

Bruce has previously been in charge at Sheffield United but most recently has been in charge at Hull City and then Aston Villa.

His Hull side won promotion to the Premier League in 2016, winning the Championship play-off final at Wembley, beating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0.

That was his second promotion to the top flight with Hull, he also took Birmingham up twice.

Most recently he took Villa to the play-off final last season where they lost to Fulham and, after a poor start to the current campaign, he left Villa Park to be replaced by Dean Smith.

Since Luhukay left Hillsborough, Wednesday have been unbeaten in the four games in which Lee Bullen has been in temporary charge.

They currently sit 16th in the Championship table, 10 points clear of the bottom three but 11 shy of the top six.

Their last game was a 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham on New Year's Day while this weekend they are in action at home to League One Luton in the third round of the FA Cup.

They are 5/4 to win through to the fourth round on Saturday with Luton 2/1.

Wednesday are 40/1 to finish in the top six of the Championship this season with Villa 5/4 and Hull City 10/1.

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Bullen backing Bruce for Owls

Caretaker boss Lee Bullen has backed the news that Steve Bruce is the favourite to become the next Sheffield Wednesday manager.

The Owls are on the lookout for a permanent successor to Jos Luhukay after he departed the club on Friday by mutual consent after just under 12 months at the helm.

Bullen stepped up to take over first-team affairs on Saturday and enjoyed success as Michael Hector scored the only goal as the Owls defeated Preston 1-0 at Hillsborough to claim only their second win in 11 games.

However, his time at the helm looks like being short-lived after Bruce's former Aston Villa assistant manager Steve Agnew and ex-coach Stephen Clemence were both in attendance at the game.

Bruce and his staff were sacked by Villa two months ago after a disappointing start to the season, but the former Sheffield United boss guided the club to last season's Championship play-off final and he has an impressive four promotions to the Premier League on his CV.

When asked about the prospect of Bruce taking over, Bullen said: "Whether or not it happens at this level I think you can only point at Steve Bruce or our good friend at Cardiff (Neil Warnock) that have just have an unbelievable record of success at this level.

"Steve will be hurting with the way things went at Aston Villa, absolutely, but if you get the opportunity to speak to someone like that – a British coach that knows the Championship inside out then you don't knock back the opportunity to speak to him. Whether anything comes of it I don't know."

Bruce could be in charge by the time the Owls travel to Middlesbrough on Boxing Day, where they are 13/2 to pick up a second successive win. Boro are 1/2 to secure the three points and the draw is 14/5.

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Luhukay leaves Owls

Jos Luhukay has left Sheffield Wednesday by mutual consent with immediate effect less than 12 months after being named manager at Hillsborough.

The 55-year-old Dutchman leaves with the Owls 18th in the Championship table, six points above the relegation zone.

Chairman Dejphon Chansiri said: "I would like to place on record my thanks to Jos for the efforts he has given to Sheffield Wednesday.

"But now is the right time for both parties to move on and I wish him all the very best for the future."

Coach Lee Bullen will take caretaker charge of the team until a new permanent manager is appointed.

Wednesday have won just one of their last 10 games and are 4/1 to be relegated this season while Rotherham United are 6/4 to go down.

Luhukay has managed several Bundesliga sides during his career including Hertha Berlin, VFB Stuttgart and Borussia Monchengladbach.

He worked under Jupp Heynckes at Monchengladbach and was in charge of Stuttgart until September 2016 before taking charge of Wednesday, who lost 2-1 at Swansea City last weekend.

Sako welcomes Albion opportunity

Versatile forward Bakary Sako is relishing an opportunity to help West Bromwich Albion challenge for an immediate return to the Premier League.

The 30-year-old was a free agent after leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season and has opted to join the Baggies on a season-long deal after being the subject of interest from a number of top-flight clubs.

And Mali international Sako, who has also played in England with Wolves, has revealed that the influence of Albion boss Darren Moore was a major factor in him heading to The Hawthorns.

He told his new club's official website: "A lot of Premier League clubs wanted me, but as soon as I knew Darren Moore wanted to see me I went to see him straight away and we clicked.

"The way he manages players, the way he talks, he's passionate and I love that – that's why I came here."

Meanwhile, Moore himself was delighted to have landed Sako, adding: "He brings great experience and adds greatly to our goal threat across a range of positions. He brings competition to the group and a know-how of this division.

"He's been a credit while he's been training with us and I can vouch for the fact that the way he has committed to us has been exceptional."

The Baggies, who top the Championship table heading into a midweek round of games, are back in action on Wednesday evening when they head to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday.

They are 11/10 to defeat the Owls and are 10/1 to win the game 2-0, with the visitors 9/4 to keep a clean sheet.

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Missed chances annoy Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa wants his Leeds United side to be more clinical in front of goal after watching them draw 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday.

Adam Reach gave the Owls the lead in Friday's Championship clash at Hillsborough with a superb long-range volley but United equalised after the interval when Mateusz Klich netted with another spectacular effort.

Samu Saiz almost grabbed a late winner for Leeds, who missed a hatful of presentable chances during the Yorkshire derby.

Bielsa said after the match: "I am truly disappointed. I don't like to judge the performance of the opponents, but the fact that we needed 25 chances to score talks about what we deserved.

"Usually, we need three chances to score one goal and this statistic is common to teams that lead their competition. Against Birmingham in the previous game we needed eight chances to score and against Wednesday we needed 25.

"I'm glad that the fans celebrated Klich's goal because he deserves the celebration from the fans.

"When you evaluate the performance of the team and you look at the number of chances, you can't say that we're satisfied with the result."

Leeds United can be backed at 13/8 to be promoted this season while Sheffield Wednesday are available at 20/1 to go up.

Carvalhal to shuffle his pack

Carlos Carvalhal admits it will not be the end of the world if his Swansea City side are knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield Wednesday.

The winners of Tuesday's fifth-round replay will host either Tottenham or Rochdale in the quarter-finals but the Swans are embroiled in a relegation battle which intensified when they lost 4-1 at Brighton on Saturday.

Carvalhal has not been afraid to make wholesale changes to his team for their matches in the FA Cup and will do the same again against the Owls, who axed him in December.

Swansea, 11/8 to be relegated this season, are 3/4 to beat Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday and 25/1 to win the FA Cup outright this season.

"It was a strange game for me at Sheffield Wednesday – I felt sometimes as if I was playing against myself!" Carvalhal said. "I love the club – everybody knows I will be an Owl forever.

"But when the whistle goes tonight we will try to win the game, whether it is after 90 minutes, 120 minutes or penalties.

"We will not take any risks with any players who have slight problems, but we will try to pick the best XI we have available to win a difficult game.

"If we go to the next stage that is fantastic, but if we don't it is not the end of the world because we have an important game on Saturday in the Premier League."

Bartley: Home advantage key

Kyle Bartley says that he feels home advantage could be key when Swansea host Sheffield Wednesday in an FA Cup fifth round replay.

The teams played out a goalless draw at Hillsborough on Saturday in Carlos Carvalhal's reunion with the Owls after leaving the Championship side shortly before joining the Swans.

The extra game is part of a trend in Swansea's cup run this season; they progressed after home replays against both Wolves and Notts County and Bartley feels that getting Wednesday back to the Liberty Stadium could be crucial as they seek to progress through to the quarter-finals.

Bartley said: "We have been in this situation before and we have got good results when we have done that.

"The crowd will be right behind us and hopefully we will play some good football and book our place in the next round."

Not that boss Carvalhal was delighted with the extra game, saying that the draw at Sheffield was the "score nobody wants."

They went closest to settling the original tie, Mike van der Hoorn seeing his header well saved by Cameron Dawson who was the busier of the two keepers.

Bartley said he was determined to take the positives from a result which did take the Swans to 10 games unbeaten in all competitions.

"We battled well and the fact we have kept the unbeaten run going is massive for us," he added.

"It keeps building momentum and the longer our unbeaten run continues, the more confidence we will get."

Swansea are 10/11 to win through to the quarter-finals in a little over a week's time with Wednesday priced at 3/1.

Swansea meanwhile have renewed hope of Premier League survival after their good run. They are out of the bottom three, sitting in 16th place in the table.

They are 9/4 to go down while they are 4/11 to survive for at least another season.

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