Top spot in Championship beckons for Brighton or Sheffield Wednesday


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The Independent Football

A place at the top of the npower Championship is the prize on offer when Brighton host Sheffield Wednesday at the Amex Stadium tomorrow night.

Both sides have made strong starts to the league campaign with seven points from four matches seeing them into the top six, and three points tomorrow will vault either to the summit for a day at least, replacing Blackpool at the top of the pile.

The match comes at the end of the international break and with Wednesday in particular itching to get back to action after signing off with their first defeat of the season against Crystal Palace 12 days ago.

Tomorrow's trip to the south coast to face Gus Poyet's Seagulls comes just 11 days before the Owls will have to make a near-identical journey to face Southampton in the Capital One Cup.

The two gruelling away days are part of a sequence of seven matches in 23 days, and Wednesday manager Dave Jones hopes the rest has done his players good ahead of the busy period.

"We'll only know if the break has done us any good when we play again," Jones said in quotes reported by the Sheffield Star.

"We've got a very busy period coming up with some long journeys ahead of us. And it's the travelling that's the toughest part to deal with.

"You have to make sure the players get their rest, eat the right things, get re-hydrated and try and look after them the best you can."

Brighton will also be eager to get back into the groove tomorrow after reluctantly breaking off for the internationals after scoring eight goals in back-to-back league wins against Burnley and Brighton.

Those wins took Poyet's men up to fourth place in the standings, above tomorrow's sixth-placed opponents on goal difference and just two behind the leaders.

One feature of the 3-1 win at Burnley was the long-throw threat of Spanish full-back Bruno.

But Poyet insists his side are not about to go down the same path as Premier League outfit Stoke, who routinely use the long throw-ins of Rory Delap to such good effect.

"We don't have the players to go crazy with it, so we are not going to use it constantly," Poyet told The Argus.

"If we had a player like Peter Crouch then maybe we would use it more. It is an option but without changing our style completely.

"We saw it in a few pre-season games, even with throw-ins from the middle of the park. It's a great option to have."

Elsewhere tomorrow night, Charlton and Crystal Palace meet in a south London derby at The Valley, where a second win of the season for the visitors will take them out of the relegation zone and above the 17th-placed Addicks.