Holdsworth takes charge of COVID-hit Owls for FA Cup tie

Andy Holdsworth will be in charge of what looks sure to be a depleted Wednesday squad for tomorrow afternoon’s FA Cup third round tie at Exeter City.

Caretaker boss Neil Thompson and his assistants Lee Bullen and Steve Haslam will all be absent after being amongst a significant number of Wednesday staff to have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, so under-18s manager Holdsworth will be leading the side for the trip to the West Country, with Daral Pugh, Nicky Weaver and Tony Strudwick alongside him.

After the recent busy schedule, Wednesday may well have rested some regular first team players for the match against division two Exeter and now, although the club has not said who else has been affected by the outbreak, some players may also have been struck down by the illness and so be isolating.

Holdsworth, who joined the club in September 2018 as under-18s boss, says it will be a proud day for him personally but is concentrating purely on hopefully helping Wednesday to progress to the fourth round.

He said: “It all happened really quickly but that’s football and you have to be ready for anything to happen.

“Nothing really changes with how we want to play, the same mantra, same philosophy will apply.

“This really is a fantastic club and it’s an exciting opportunity. It has come in a manner that is not ideal but it will be a great experience for us that are involved.”

He added: “But the be-all-and-end-all is getting in the hat for the next round and for us to have a battle.

“You always should expect a tough game in the FA Cup when you’re away against a side below you in the pyramid. This game will be no different, it will be a battle but there is a good confidence here and that comes from winning games.”

Neil Thompson, who will watch the game from home while isolating, said at today’s ‘Zoom’ press conference: “The squad will be going down to Exeter on three coaches today. There will be lots of space. All the lads have been tested and they will be tested again this morning.”

He added: “The staff who are going down there have more than enough experience to lead the team. We have to try and keep our run going, keep a calm mind and be fully focused.

“Our focus is getting us in the right frame of mind because we want to get into the next round, that is for sure. We’ve had 10 points from the last 12 so we should be confident but the cup is different, it will be a tough match.”
If the scores are level after 90 minutes then we will play 30 minutes extra time and, if the game is still drawn at that stage, then it will go to a penalty shootout.
The tie will be shown live on BT Sport Extra 5, kick off 3pm.
This will be our first FA Cup tie with Exeter, our only other cup clash with them coming in a shock
3-1 League Cup defeat at St James Park in September 1968.
We were in the top flight and Exeter in the old fourth division for what was our first-ever game at their ground … the giant-killing coming in typical Wednesday fashion as on the previous Saturday we had beaten European Cup holders Manchester United 5-4 in one of the greatest matches seen at Hillsborough.
In five league visits since then, we have lost four times and drawn once.

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