Bruce backs Sheffield Wednesday to be play-off contenders

Steve Bruce thinks Sheffield Wednesday are play-off contenders after goals from Steven Fletcher and Rolando Aarons earned the Owls a 2-0 Sky Bet Championship win at relegation threatened Bolton.

Fletcher broke the deadlock just before the break while Aarons’ first Wednesday goal on the hour ensured a ninth game unbeaten since Bruce moved into the Hillsborough hot-seat.

“I have only been in six weeks but it’s been a good six weeks,” said Bruce beaten on his three previous trips to the University of Bolton Stadium.

“We are going to have to have an even better six weeks. But we have given ourselves a chance.

“We are in good form and we can have a say at the top end. We have got to go to Leeds and Norwich and the way we are playing we are a match for anyone in the division,” he said.

Fletcher’s 43rd minute goal-his ninth of the season- from an exquisite pass by former Wanderers’ midfielder, Barry Bannan, was the one quality moment of the opening period.

“That first goal was the important one,” Bruce said. “To be fair it  was a horrible night. You wouldn’t have sent a lifeboat out in that.

“But the first bit of quality we showed for the first goal gave everyone that little bit of confidence.

“We all know how important the first goal is in the Championship or for any league.”

Bolton boss Phil Parkinson admitted his side’s display was “flat” but insisted the events of the previous 24 hours had not contributed to defeat.

“The lads were pretty focused going into the game,” he said as a takeover of the club moves closer to fruition.

“I was disappointing on Monday because the lads had expected their wages to go in,” he said of chairman Ken Anderson’s failed promise to pay February wages until earlier on Tuesday.

“So, we had a bit of turmoil on Monday evening and this morning.

“It’s not ideal because you are preparing for a game and you don’t want to be talking about wages.

“But I don’ want to use that as an excuse. Wednesday showed the quality when it was most needed.

“The first half was tight and not a great deal in it. It was a moment of quality that separated the two teams.

“The rare moments of quality in the game came from them and that is what decided he match.

“We have to go to Wigan on Saturday and find one almighty effort in our legs to put in a performance to get the points to close the gap between us and them.

“We are disappointed we couldn’t back up the weekend. Now the aim is ‘can we make it six points to take us into the international break’.”