Butcher able to relax in win

Bristol City have no fresh injury worries as they prepare for

their huge Championship clash with Sheffield Wednesday at Ashton

Gate on Monday.

The Robins are yet to taste defeat on home soil since head coach

Sean O’Driscoll took charge but their failure to secure a victory

on the road has left them six points adrift of safety with seven

games remaining.

The likes of Albert Adomah and Liam Kelly are pushing for

recalls while Paul Anderson came through 90 minutes following his

return to the starting line-up after injury.

But O’Driscoll is limited when it comes to attacking options

with striker Ryan Taylor (shoulder) back in training but not yet

available, and fellow forward Jon Stead (groin) still


City’s latest defeat on their travels, a 3-0 loss at Derby on

Friday, means a reverse to the Owls would leave the Robins staring

at a return to League One after six seasons on football’s second


Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, will be without suspended

defender Lewis Buxton for the game.

Buxton was sent off in Saturday’s derby win over Barnsley for a

second yellow card offence and will sit out a one-game ban, so

Martin Taylor will come into contention for a recall.

Seyi Olofinjana and fellow midfielder Stuart Holden made their

debuts after joining on loan last week from Hull and Bolton

respectively, and manager Dave Jones must decide if both are

capable of playing two games in four days.

Giles Coke, fit again after a foot injury, replaced Holden in

the second half on Saturday, while Rhys McCabe, Kieran Lee, and

David Prutton provide Jones with extra options in midfield.

Jermaine Johnson is in contention to start. He returned to the

bench following international duty with Jamaica, but fellow winger

Michail Antonio (groin) is out for the rest of the season.

The hosts will hope Will Grigg can manage two games in four days

as they prepare to entertain their midlands neighbours.

The Northern Ireland international, who has 19 goals to his name

this season, was a big doubt for Good Friday’s trip to Yeovil but

made an earlier than expected to return to start from the off at

Huish Park.

Grigg lasted 78 minutes of the goalless draw and Saddlers boss

Dean Smith, who is not expected to be have any other injury or

suspension concerns, will be hoping he is fresh enough to line up

once more against the Sky Blues.

New loan signing Romaine Sawyers appeared for the closing stages

against the Glovers and will be aiming for a bigger role on Easter

Monday as Walsall strive to stretch their 11-match unbeaten


Coventry manager Steven Pressley will be tempted to keep faith

with an unchanged XI.

Pressley poured praise on his players after they responded from

one of the toughest weeks in the crisis club’s history to inflict a

1-0 defeat on league leaders Doncaster on Good Friday.

The victory would have kept City within touching distance of the

play-offs were it not for a 10-point deduction for going into

administration, imposed by the Football League 24 hours


Pressley made three changes for the clash as fit-again skipper

Carl Baker returned in midfield alongside Adam Barton, with Callum

Ball taking his place in attack.

Gary McSheffrey and Cody McDonald, both benched, will be hoping

for recalls while Steven Jennings will again be assessed having

missed out due to injury.

Dundee boss John Brown immediately tried to sign the former

Inverness and Ross County striker on a short-term deal after he

became one of seven experienced players to lose their jobs with the

administration-hit club.

A statement on the Dundee website read: “The signing which took

place at Dens Park this afternoon is subject to SFA clearance and

special dispensation due to Dunfermline’s circumstances.”

Partick Thistle signed two of the released Pars players, Jordan

McMillan and Andy Dowie, while Dunfermline reported that goalkeeper

Paul Gallacher had joined Ross County.

The Tangerines are facing crunch time as they chase a top-six

slot with games against Saints tomorrow night at McDiarmid Park

before hosting Aberdeen at Tannadice this weekend.

McNamara knows the importance of securing a top-half finish for

the Scottish Cup semi-finalists so will not mind if they win ugly

on this occasion.

McNamara said: “We always try to play good football.

“But when it gets down to this stage of the season it can be

more about the result than the performance at the end of the


“I know the players can dig deep to win even if they’re not at

their best.

“That’s a side of their game they’ve shown since I came in so

they may have to do that again.

“St Johnstone are a big, strong side so we will obviously have

to match them in that respect.

“It’s going to be a very hard game but we’ll be ready for it and

hopefully come away with a positive result.”

United’s last outing ended in a 1-1 draw with city rivals Dundee

before the international weekend.

And McNamara reckons they’ve benefited from the free weekend and

are raring to go again in their pursuit of a top-six slot.

He added: “The lads are buzzing to get going again.

“We worked hard when we were in last week and then had a little

bit of time off.

“The players have come back fresh and are really looking forward

to this match with St Johnstone.

“It’s a big one and we’re under no illusions about that.

“We will be looking to win both games before the split so we

know what we have to try and do in that regard.

“I think the players are capable of that as they’ve shown on

their day.

“There are no easy games in the SPL but hopefully this one can

being out the best in us on Monday night.”

United will give winger Gary Mackay-Steven every chance of

making it as he battles to shrug off a hamstring injury.

John Rankin is suspended though and striker John Russell is

still missing through his knee injury.

St Johnstone need just a point against Dundee United to book

their top six place on Monday night but midfielder Liam Craig is

determined to finish the season with a bang.

Fifth-placed Saints would put themselves out of reach of all of

the bottom six including United by avoiding defeat in the Tayside

derby at McDiarmid Park.

Consecutive top-six finishes would represent an excellent

achievement for Steve Lomas’ side, especially given that they would

ensure finishes above clubs with the biggest spending power outside

the Old Firm such as Hearts, Hibernian and Aberdeen.

But Craig is not content with that alone. St Johnstone set up a

Europa League clash with Eskisehirspor last year by finishing fifth

but they ended the season in unspectacular fashion and Craig wants

to leave the club on a high before he joins Hibernian.

The 26-year-old said: “When you look at it, you wouldn’t have

expected that top six to be there with two games to go before the


“But this year has been tight and we’re delighted to put

ourselves in a position to make the top six again, especially after

the start we made.

“We always knew we had the quality in the team and over the

season so far, it has proved right.

“But when you look back to last season, we didn’t win any of the

last seven games, which by our standards isn’t good enough.

“There are seven games left now and we don’t want to stumble

into the top six – we want to get there with two wins and give

ourselves a chance of climbing the table.

“We want to make sure we go in there positive and make a better

account of ourselves.”Victory in the televised clash would move St

Johnstone into fourth, three points behind Inverness and a

guaranteed European spot.

“After we got a wee taste of it last year, we are determined to

get back there,” Craig said.

“For a lot of the boys it was their first experience. It was a

great trip to Turkey, albeit the result wasn’t what we wanted it

was a great experience.

“It was something we wanted to build on this year and we have

put ourselves in a position to do it again, so it is up to us to

finish it off.”

Graham Westley takes charge of his first game back in charge of

Stevenage on Easter Monday.

Westley has returned to Boro, who he guided to back-to-back

promotions before leaving for Preston, to replace Gary Smith who

was sacked last week.

He will be without Miguel Comminges, who is suspended after his

red card in Friday’s 1-1 draw against Crawley.

With Lee Hills a doubt with a hamstring problem, David Gray is

set to fill in at left-back.

Midfielder Gavin Mahon is struggling with a knock but new

signings Alex Smith and Roarie Deacon could be added to the


Defender Smith joined on loan from Fulham on Thursday and

forward Deacon was a free agent after leaving Sunderland, but

neither signed in time to face the Red Devils.

The visitors will be without suspended midfielder Simon Walton

and three other players could miss out through injury.

Walton was shown a straight red card in Friday’s home defeat to

MK Dons for his challenge on Patrick Bamford and will start a

three-game ban.

Pools manager John Hughes could also be without fellow

midfielder Ritchie Humphreys again after he missed out against the

Dons due to a calf strain.

Defender Evan Horwood and midfielder Antony Sweeney are also

doubtful after they both sustained hamstring strains during

Friday’s setback.

Teenager Jack Baldwin made a surprise return to action on Friday

following knee ligament damage and played the full 90 minutes, so

he too could be struggling to last a second full game in the space

of four days.

Charlie Wyke, on loan from Middlesbrough, overcame a heel

problem in time to start against the Dons and although fellow

striker James Poole missed out due to a knock, he could return to

contention to boost Hughes’ attacking options following Thursday’s

departure of Steve Howard to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

The home side sent a stream of set-pieces and crosses into the

opposing penalty area looking for a second equaliser, Leigh

Griffiths having earlier cancelled out Ross Draper’s opener.

But Butcher was always confident his players would protect the

lead provided by Andrew Shinnie’s 65th-minute strike.

“They are a resilient bunch of players, really tenacious as

well,” said Butcher. “I’ve grown to trust them enormously.

“They all get on with each other and they all respect each other

and it makes my job so much easier. I can just sit back and


“There in the dugout today I could just sit back with my legs

crossed and let them get on with it – no broken dugouts this time,”

he quipped, referring to his recent Scottish Football Association

charge for punching through the side of the dugout at Dundee.

“A lot of these boys are here next year so it whets the appetite

for that. We’re on 50 points now, but we’re not finished yet. We

don’t like 50, we want another number. We want to get another win

on Friday against St Johnstone.”

One player who will not be back is Shinnie. The midfielder has

been instrumental in Inverness’ unforeseen rise up the table this

campaign, but the 24-year old is out of contract in the summer and

has his heart set on a move to England.

“I’m determined to give my all until the end of the season,”

said Shinnie, who capped off a terrific second-half performance

with the winner.

“I’m too professional to do anything else. We’re desperate to

get a European place, we feel that the players and the club deserve


“He (Butcher) has been great for my career. After I left Rangers

he gave me the chance to play SPL football every week and I hope

that in the two years since I’ve been here that I’ve managed to

repay him.

“He’s played me every game this season. If there were times when

I struggled a bit for a couple of games he wouldn’t just dump me

out the team, he’d keep faith in me. He’s been brilliant for


Hibs, who for a long time this season looked to be challenging

for second place, now look likely to miss out on the top six with a

trip to Celtic Park their one remaining fixture before the


Manager Pat Fenlon said: “We have to give it our all and go to

Celtic, which is obviously a difficult venue, but we have to be

positive and try and get a result and hope that other games go our


“I disagree that we’ve been poor at home, we’ve had some decent

results. We haven’t lost too many games, typical of Hibs it’s

always looking at the negative.

“We’re looking at the positive. We’ve done okay this season, we

need to kick on before the split and we’ve got a semi-final to look

forward to.”