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FAN FOCUS: Owls fan Stuart Laver gives us the lowdown ahead of Sunderland’s cup-tie this evening

Sheffield Wednesday fan Stuart Laver joined us for a quick chat to talk about the fortunes of both clubs ahead of tonight’s game at the Stadium of Light.

Sheffield Wednesday v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

RR: It’s been a big summer for us, but how have things been at Wednesday? Seems you’ve had your own turbulent times recently?

SL: It has been a strange summer in that we understood that we were sailing very close to the wind in terms of FFP, but it wasn’t until last week that the embargo was confirmed.

The hope was that by moving players on and out on loan, we might position ourselves to bring in a couple of players we need to really push on. The reality is we still have to move a couple more on - it looked like your old boy Westwood might have moved on deadline day, particular after our manager stated he was the third choice keeper, but that’s a different story.

The positive in this is that youth players got the opportunity in the second half of the season (due to injures) and they took it with both hands and actually proved that we have players ready and hungry within our setup that negates the need to spend money.

We have two quality keepers that in time will hopefully go on to have great careers with us. Jordan Thorniley and Ash Baker are now pushing for a starting place, and the subs bench is frequently filled with academy players.

Whether it was the situation we are in, or the managers style, it is great to see players coming through. The squad was too big and we need to move players on - just a shame we couldn’t bring a couple in.

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship
Former Sunderland keeper Kieron Westwood
Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

RR: There’ll be a number of players in a red and white shirt that weren’t around when we met last season. How has the transfer embargo affected Wednesday?

SL: We have finally got a chairman with money who is happy to spend what is needed.

Unfortunately that money hasn’t been spent wisely and, although lessons will be learnt going forward, we are now under a transfer embargo due to the rules of FFP. Despite the chairman having and willing to spend money, we now have to adhere to the rules, and rightly so.

We have the nucleus of a decent squad and, should we be able to keep everyone fit, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging for play off places. The galling thing is we are a probably 2 or 3 signings off really competing.

The real frustration of the situation is that we are competing against teams that have massive parachute payments and can throw money about, and, whilst I understand why they were put in place originally, it has gone too far now and it is no longer a level playing field. It is driving the wrong decisions, and can set teams back years. We’ve been through it. You are currently going through it and, although you have the payments, the legacy of premiership contracts etc takes time to address. Hopefully you’ll get out of the division, but there will be teams in League One with the same frustration in terms of trying to compete.

The FFP is driving a weird three year rolling pattern whereby teams go for it, to try and get promoted in year one. If they don’t make it, they go again year 2 and, if they don’t make it, in year 3 they have to cut the cloth and sit tight for a year or so until you are in a position to spend and go again. Unfortunately we are at the back end of that process and the chairman has said we will be up against it even more next year should we not get promoted.

There is no reason however that you can’t go on a run and go against the flow and get promoted like Cardiff did and Huddersfield before them.

Sheffield Wednesday v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship
Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

RR: Hopefully we’ll have your ex-captain marshalling the troops from defence again. Loovens has looked good in our opening games. Do you think it was the right time for him to go, or could Wednesday have done with him?

SL: The time was right on a number of levels and the reduction of wages obviously helps towards the financial position.

Unfortunately for ‘Casual Glen’, time is starting to catch up with him - he’ll be 35 in September. The former smooth, calm, chilled out ‘Rolls Royce’ of a centre half was starting to get caught out.

He has been a brilliant servant for the club, well liked by the players but the time was right. I wish him all the best and hopefully he can be that calming leader for you and hopefully he doesn’t get caught out to much - except for Thursday!

RR: For us, the league is the priority, although getting into a winning habit would be nice! How do you think you’ll approach this game?

SL: This is a very good question, the answer is I don’t know how Jos will play it.

Ideally we would have won the first two games and could then justify playing youngsters.

Personally, I think it is important to get a win on board and get the season up and running.

That said, I hope he does play a couple of the younger lads and it would be great to see Matt Penney get an opportunity on the left hand side particularly as Fox was injured (and just rubbish) on Saturday.

Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship
Glenn Loovens: The former Owls captain is now at Sunderland
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

RR: Any players we should be worried about?

SL: The obvious one would be Fernando Forestieri, but we have plenty of players who are a threat, it just depends who he plays. I wouldn’t be surprise to see Steven Fletcher score if he starts.

RR: Any you’re worrying about on our side?

SL: Chris Maguire - former players always have a habit of scoring against us. He is one of those players, a proper wind up merchant, and he will be buzzing to stick one on us.

RR: Finally, what’s your score prediction?

SL: I think we will win 2-1, with Fletcher scoring for us if he plays and Maguire getting his opportunity to stir it a bit probably from the penalty spot. All the best for the season!

Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship
Chris Maguire during his Sheffield Wednesday days
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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