Defensive worries for Owls

Frank Simek and Tommy Spurr will both miss the clash with The Black Cats through suspension so it is expected that Hills will come in at left-back with Bougherra partnering Graham Coughlan in defence.

Lee Bullen should fill in at right-back to deputise for Simek, who like Spurr, picked up his fifth booking of the season at Derby last week although Richard Wood is also in contention after a long lay-off.

Leon Clarke is set to make his Owls debut from either the start or the bench as Wednesday try to get their first win of 2007 in front of a bumper Hillsborough crowd.

Simek meanwhile will be a frustrated spectator but thinks that The Owls have improved since the two sides last met.

At Sunderland they played us off the park I think," he told Footymad. "We were very much outplayed and we were not really in the game but things have changed since then and now we are a better team, with our performances on the pitch we don't have anything to be afraid of.