What can Hartlepool United expect from Sheffield Wednesday ahead of their Papa John's Trophy second round tie

Hartlepool United face a difficult task in the the Papa John’s Trophy when they travel to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Pools were unbeaten in the group stages but head to South Yorkshire on the back of a fifth straight League Two defeat at Port Vale on Saturday.

Interim manager Antony Sweeney has hinted there may be a number of changes to the starting XI but what can Pools expect from the Owls?

We caught up with The Star’s Alex Miller for the inside scoop on Darren Moore’s side.

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Hartlepool United travel to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday in the second round of the Papa John's Trophy (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Three out of three for Wednesday in this competition so far, have they been as good as that form suggests?

In truth, Wednesday have been a class above their opponents in the competition so far. Darren Moore has sought to shuffle his pack a touch in the three games so far, which have resulted in a 2-1 win over Mansfield, a 3-0 win over Newcastle's youngsters and a 4-0 win over Harrogate Town.

When in a good bill of health the club has a deep squad and the competition has offered an opportunity for Wednesday's fringe players - guys like Sylla Sow - to step up and largely speaking they've done that.

Wednesday have been good at home this season, though they have drawn too many games, and are growing in confidence in recent weeks with big players having returned from injury.

How seriously are Wednesday taking this competition?

Selection-wise they've shuffled their pack a touch, but the teams Moore has put out have been strong. Both staff and players have made it clear from the outset that it's a competition they want to do well in.

Some of the so-called 'big clubs' in League One have done well in the 'Pizza Cup' in recent seasons and there's a feeling Wednesday fancy a slice of that action.

There was a sense of annoyance towards the competition from some sections of the fanbase early doors - particularly when pitted against Newcastle's youngsters, but that mood will fall away further if they are to get another step closer to Wembley.

What can Pools expect from Wednesday? Will there be many changes?

As Moore made clear over the weekend, Wednesday's squad is a little war-torn in certain positions so there won't be the option of wholesale changes, certainly at the back.

I'd expect guys like Sow, George Byers, Saido Berahino and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing to take part given their lack of pitch time in recent weeks.

Unless Moore plumps for something unexpected, they'll likely line up in a 3-5-2 formation.

Who should Pools be weary of?

Josh Windass has been in fine form since his return to action having had hamstring surgery in the summer. Whether Wednesday will be a case of getting him pitch time or resting him remains to be seen. See also midfield maestro Massimo Luongo.

Chey Dunkley may well continue at the back given their lack of options in that area - there is a huge injury crisis among Owls defenders and he's in the form of his life.

I'd expect former Premier League striker Berahino to start and he has a point to prove given he's been somewhat overtaken in the pecking order by Florian Kamberi, Lee Gregory and Windass in recent weeks.

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