Carlos Carvalhal says Sheffield Wednesday are firm underdogs heading into their League Cup quarter-final against Stoke City, despite thumping Arsenal in the last round.
Wednesday, who lifted the trophy in 1991, have been in sparkling form during their run to the last eight, following up a victory over Newcastle United with a 3-0 triumph over Arsenal at Hillsborough in the fourth round.
Mark Hughes’ Stoke have been in fine form themselves in recent weeks, having won three out of their last five games – including a penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea – to get this far, although they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Sunderland on Saturday.
But Carvalhal, who also confirmed that young goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith – an ever-present during their League Cup campaign – will again start on Tuesday, is adamant that his side must not under-estimate two-time winners Stoke.
“Stoke will be favourites as the Premier League side but we will go there and we will do the best we can, and we want to get to the next round,” the Portuguese told Wednesday’s official website. “So you never know.”
“Joe will play against Stoke and I have every confidence in him as always. He has done very, very well this season.
“We will assess the rest of the players and then decide the squad for the game, where we want to do our supporters proud.”
One Wednesday player that has stood out this season is Portuguese forward Lucas Joao, who came off the bench to seal a share of the spoils for Wednesday as they rallied to draw 2-2 with Blackburn at Ewood Park on Saturday – his sixth goal in 11 games.
And Carvalhal explained his delight at the form of his compatriot, insisting the striker provides a fantastic option either as a starter or as a substitute.
“We have to make sure we provide the right environment for Lucas,” he continued. “For example, he started against Brighton and did not have the best of games and this is normal.
“But against Arsenal, the environment was absolutely correct and he started, played well and scored. So we wait for the right moment. This is not a problem.”
Wednesday will have Sam Hutchinson available after serving a suspension, while Stoke will be without captain Ryan Shawcross, who was shown a red card at the Stadium of Light. Shay Given (knee) and Marc Muniesa (hamstring) are also absent for the hosts.