Norwich City 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday: Championship – as it happened

Mario Vrancic jumped off the bench to rescue Championship leaders Norwich a priceless point against Sheffield Wednesday at Carrow Road

Daniel Farke, the Norwich head coach, talks. “The lads are brilliant and this spirit and attitude is carrying us through the season,” he says. “Again, we had ridiculous decisions against us and to come away, 11 games unbeaten, it is outstanding. We have a really unique attitude. We have a world-class winning mentality. This team never knows when they have lost a game. We always fight against the odds and were able to find a answer.”

Read Paul Doyle’s dispatch from Carrow Road:

Steve Bruce speaks. “It’s cruel,” he says. “When you see the goal [the winner] again: ‘Is it a free-kick?’ I doubt it. The referee then played five-and-a-half minutes when there are five to play and he says he has allowed 30 seconds for a substitution. Where he gets this 30 extra seconds from ... we feel aggrieved today, because the referee didn’t do his job.” Of Forestieri, he adds: “For the first time in a while, he looks fit. He has had a few injury problems but, unfortunately, it is towards the end of the season that we are seeing the real Forestieri. We have practically nothing to play for, but we rolled up our sleeves and, for me, we deserved to win the match.”

That was another brilliant advert for the Championship. A sensational end to another seesawing, entertaining encounter. Plenty of positives for both teams, although avoiding defeat was massive for Norwich, who have drawn their past three matches and travel to Stoke City on Easter Monday. They could seal promotion there, depending on how Sheffield United and Leeds United fare at Hull and Brentford respectively. For Norwich, the 19-year-old Max Aarons was absolutely terrific again, while Wednesday will take encouragement from a hearty performance. And, anyone inside Carrow Road will not forget that thumping Fernando Forestieri strike any time soon; it was a beauty. Steve Bruce’s side take on Bristol City next, though a point simply leaves them with too much to do to break into the play-offs.

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It is a draw that tastes like a victory for Norwich City. Mario Vrancic, who equalised in stoppage-time speaks. “I was sure I was going to sure, I practise for those moments and I am happy it went,” he says. “It is a very important point, we are five points ahead with three games to go but it is not done yet.” Fernando Forestieri, very eloquently, says: “I’m happy for Norwich, they deserve to win the league. They are likely to be champions.”

Mario Vrancic celebrates his late equaliser.
Mario Vrancic celebrates his late equaliser. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

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Full-time: Norwich City 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday

Norwich never know when they are beaten. They salvage what could prove a priceless point at the death. Sheffield Wednesday probably feel hard done by, but Steven Fletcher handled in the buildup to poking Steve Bruce’s side in front.

GOAL! Norwich City 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday (Vrancic, 90+7)

Make that eight goals in the 90th minute or later! Mario Vrancic bends a fine free-kick over the Wednesday wall and it zooms into the top corner. Dawson had no chance. Carrow Road erupts, but Farke is totally unmoved.

Mario Vrancic is the coolest man in the stadium as he takes a last-gasp free kick.
Mario Vrancic is the coolest man in the stadium as he takes a last-gasp free kick. Photograph: Joe Toth/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

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90+5 min: Norwich free-kick, right on the edge of the 18-yard box. Vrancic fishes for a foul and buys one out of Marco Matias. This will surely be the last kick of the game. Vrancic fancies it, too ...

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90+4 min: Dawson smothers a high ball forward by Aarons.

90+3 min: Klose goes over in the box after collecting a Pukki pass, after a high ball forward, but it is an optimistic shout for a penalty. Norwich will take anything at this stage. And then Wednesday pour forward, with Lucas Joao making substantial progress in off the byline, with Godfrey eventually clearing. Wednesday could have added a third.

90+3 min: Wednesday defend superbly once more. And when Norwich recycle the ball, Srbeny and Klose sandwich Pelupessy.

90+2 min: Hernández is replaced by Timm Klose, and the giant defender’s first act will be to try and get on the end of a Norwich corner.

90+1 min: Onel Hernández darts in off the right flank and cannons a low ball across goal, but Wednesday clear. Norwich are chasing an equaliser!

90 min: There will be five minutes stoppage time. Norwich have scored seven goals in the 90th minute or later this season ...

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88 min: Leitner hangs a high ball up for Stiepermann, but Cameron Dawson reads it like a book and calmly gathers out of the sky.

86 min: Barry Bannan and Steven Fletcher play a dreamy one-two, and the latter ends up swinging at the ball inside the box – but Norwich nip in to clear just as Fletcher went to pull the trigger. Wednesday flew forward, carving Norwich open but could not put the gloss on a slick move upfield.

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84 min: Zimmermann makes a mess of a routine clearance. Maybe it is just not going to be Norwich’s night? Wednesday, who have stifled and stood firm when needed, are almost there.

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83 min: Vrancic slips Pukki into the channel, but the striker gets his cross all wrong. Off goes Jamal Lewis, replaced by Srbeny.

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82 min: Unable to call on Jordan Rhodes off the bench – the striker ineligible to face his parent club – Norwich are readying Dennis Srbeny.

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81 min: Wednesday clear, and Mo Leitner loses a boot in the aftermath. Norwich are having a good go but Wednesday calmly hoover up another attack.

80 min: George Boyd plays the role of pantomime villain, picking up a booking after tugging at the shirt of Max Aarons, who has been absolutely relentless down the right flank again. At 19, Aarons has a huge future. Norwich have a free-kick from an acute angle, 20 yards from goal.

79 min: On comes Mario Vrancic, in place of Tom Trybull. Farke introduces a bit more attacking invention to the Norwich midfield.

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77 min: Joao’s first act is to clear a routine Norwich corner. But the ball keeps coming back at Wednesday, who failed to truly clear their lines. Dominic Iorfa boxes clever, sweeping the ball away after Aarons sends an arcing ball towards the back post where Onel Hernández was lurking.

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76 min: That’s Forestieri’s last contribution, with Lucas Joao summoned in his place. Forestieri’s right boot has proved a lethal weapon for Wednesday.

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75 min: Forestieri has another go from distance, this time bending an effort goalwards although it warps away from goal. Another great hit.

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72 min: Forestieri brings down Aarons on the very edge of the area with a clumsy challenge! Aarons petulantly wraps his arms around the referee Geoff Eltringham to inform him that he has made the wrong decision, though replays show the foul was indeed outside of the 18-yard box. But Norwich fail to make the most of it, with Stiepermann eventually running into Cameron Dawson after recycling the ball on the edge of the box.

71 min: Dawson blasts his goal-kick straight out for a Norwich throw. The home crowd enjoy it, Steve Bruce not so much.

70 min: Onel Hernández switches on the afterburners to jet beyond Iorfa but Lees does well to shut the door. Norwich continue to probe but then Leitner’s keenness is his downfall as he fouls Matias on the right flank.

68 min: Fletcher unleashes a rocket on the half-volley, but Krul is equal to it! It all stemmed from a free-kick, after Pukki was adjudged to have fouled Matias. Wednesday win a foul after their attempt to scamper forward was intercepted by the Norwich striker tracking back to do the hard yards.

Is Daniel Farke feeling the pressure?
Is Daniel Farke feeling the pressure? Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

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67 min: Pelupessy has to dig deep to clear the ball as Norwich surge upfield again through Jamal Lewis down the left flank. Another corner is headed clear by Iorfa before Wednesday attempt to counter.

66 min: Lees tries to shepherd Onel Hernández away from the box before Matias nicks the ball away, but the referee pulls up the former for being a little overzealous in the challenge. Bannan replaces Onomah. Norwich waste the resulting free-kick, with Leitner’s cross poor.

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65 min: Kenny McLean heads just wide for Norwich! Brilliant play down the right flank by Max Aarons, who gallops forward before cutting inside and delivering a flighted cross. McLean is there to meet it, beating Tom Lees to power at goal but it falls just wide of Cameron Dawson’s goal.

63 min: Norwich and Farke are still umm-ing and aah-ing over a change, while Steve Bruce is readying Barry Bannan.

62 min: Michael Hector slips in Onomah with a smart ball forward but Wednesday fail to make the most of having men up. Instead Norwich fly forward after turning over possession. Daniel Farke must be contemplating a change. They look unusually bereft of ideas in the final third.

61 min: Palmer clears with Pukki lurking. In fact, the Norwich striker had a swing at it as Stiepermann recycled the initial corner but Wednesday do well to hold firm. Forestieri then surges down the left and buys a foul out of the German, who ends up slamming the ball down in frustration.

60 min: Matias concedes a corner as Lewis surges forward to meet a lofted pass. Mo Leitner will swing it in once more ...

58 min: Sheffield Wednesday seem to be enjoying the role of party-poopers, with Onomah and Boyd gladly fizzing the ball around. Norwich, for the first time really, have gone a little flat. But surely not for long?

56 min: Steven Fletcher goes on a mazy run down the right flank. He is causing all sorts of problems – with his feet and his hands ...

54 min: Stiepermann angles a low effort just wide!

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GOAL! Norwich 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday (Fletcher, 53)

A twist in the promotion plot! A devious ball bounces in from the left and Fletcher manages to get his big toe on it to steer the cross goalwards. Tim Krul is livid because after making a super initial save, Fletcher appears to handle the ball, scooping it in with his left hand before the striker wheels away to celebrate. A contentious goal, and Krul earns a booking for his frustrations.

Steven Fletcher bundles the ball home – but Tim Krul claims the striker used his arm.
Steven Fletcher bundles the ball home – but Tim Krul claims the striker used his arm. Photograph: Tony O’Brien/Action Images

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50 min: A big save from Tim Krul to deny Forestieri a second thumper! The Dutchman gets a strong left hand to another venomous Forestieri strike. Wednesday have not turned up to just roll over. They mean business.

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49 min: Ben Godfrey glances just wide! George Boyd inadvertently flicks on Leitner’s corner at the front post and Godfrey arrives at the back post to head at goal, but he nods wide. It was a golden chance, almost such a good opportunity it appeared to take Godfrey by surprise.

48 min: Onel Hernández and Lewis play a neat one-two down the left flank. Lewis surges to the byline and wins a Norwich corner. They play it short and get another in quick succession. Leitner will swing it in once more ...

46 min: Onel Hernández does superbly, scooting forward – being tugged back all the time by Onomah – before Leitner takes over the baton, and he, too, is fouled. Norwich play a quick free-kick and Wednesday clear. Hernández has caused havoc with almost his every touch. No personnel changes at the interval, but George Boyd gets a helping hand with his bootlaces.

Onel Hernández with a trademark charge upfield.
Onel Hernández with a trademark charge upfield. Photograph: Glenn Sparkes/Frozen in Motion/Rex/Shutterstock

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46 min: Wednesday’s Josh Onomah gets us back under way.

Here we go then, the teams are back out at Carrow Road.

Half-time: Norwich 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday

A low Marco Stiepermann strike was cancelled out by a belting Fernando Forestieri equaliser. The Wednesday striker swivelled on the edge of the box before letting rip from a good 25 yards, with Forestieri filing a goal of the season contender. They will be queuing up at the end-of-season Sheffield Wednesday awards dinner for the goal of the season gong, with Adam Reach – absent with an achilles injury here – having registered a couple of beauties this campaign. Still, Norwich are very much on track to get the job done. They have been pegged back by a preposterous leveller.

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45+2 min: Hector is adamant he has won a goal-kick after nabbing the ball away from Stiepermann but replays show a corner was the right decision. Leitner delivers, but it is emphatically cleared. And that’s that.

45+1 min: Wednesday smartly turnover possession, and proceed to switch from defence to attack before the move breaks down on halfway. Back come Norwich down the right, through Max Aarons but he cannot get a clean shot away. The teenage full-back seemed to be pulled back by Palmer inside the box after collecting a sublime back-heel by Onel Hernández. But, the referee is unmoved, and Norwich have to go again.

45+1 min: Leitner buys a corner out of Dominic Iorfa ...

45 min: There will be three added minutes.

42 min: Liam Palmer does superbly to prevent a corner by going shoulder-to-shoulder with Pukki and ushering the Norwich forward aside. Norwich end up with only a throw-in but nevertheless look to maintain the pressure. Onel Hernández ends up being fed inside the box by Pukki – who is clearly fouled after passing the ball on – but the former gets his legs in a tangle. No foul is given on Pukki after the advantage fades.

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41 min: Stiepermann tries to feed Onel Hernández with a gorgeous through ball, but Lees reads it impeccably, sliding to cut it out with his legs. Norwich win the corner, but Dawson punches clear Leitner’s delivery.

39 min: Sheffield Wednesday try to play in Steven Fletcher – but Krul comes out at the crucial moment to intervene. That goal has breathed life back into Wednesday, who were far from done and dusted even at one-goal down.

37 min: Good news: Aarons is back up on his feet. That looked very painful for Aarons, the EFL young player of the year. He has had a fine season.

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36 min: Max Aarons and Liam Palmer collide on the byline, and the latter ends up inadvertently trampling on the Norwich teenager. Aarons looks in pain and will require some treatment. Palmer seems fine to carry on.

34 min: Pelupessy is on for Hutchinson, who tried to battle on but clutched his hamstring after intercepting on halfway in the very buildup to that equaliser. Daniel Farke looks totally perplexed on the touchline, presumably stunned by the sheer magnificence of that Forestieri strike.

GOAL! Norwich 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday (Forestieri, 33)

Crikey, a goal of the season contender! Fernando Forestieri wriggles into a yard of space 25-30 yards out and then just thumps an effort at goal. Once it leaves his right boot, there is only one destination, as the ball zooms beyond a hapless Tim Krul in goal. That is helluva goal – a beauty. And, suddenly, Sheffield Wednesday restore parity. A shock to the system for Norwich. Adam Reach has been partial to a pearling, piercing strike or two from distance but that was something else. A preposterous goal.

Fernando Forestieri unleashes a thunderbolt to bring Wednesday level.
Fernando Forestieri unleashes a thunderbolt to bring Wednesday level... Photograph: Stephen Pond/Getty Images
...and celebrates as Norwich players look stunned.
...and celebrates as Norwich players look stunned. Photograph: Stephen Pond/Getty Images

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30 min: Sam Hutchinson appears to be struggling for Wednesday and Joey Pelupessy is stripped and ready if needed. Bruce is determined to give his midfielder a chance to fight on but it remains to be seen if he can.

29 min: Lewis dinks a ball over the top for Pukki to run on to – but Dawson reads it and surges out of goal to gather. Wednesday try to rebuild from the back. They have done a lot right, but it is Norwich who are in control.

28 min: Ben Godfrey charges forward with the ball, eating up about 30 yards before passing over the baton to Jamal Lewis. Eventually it drops in the box for Pukki, but his effort is dealt with by Dawson in the Wednesday goal. That goal has truly relaxed Norwich, who are beginning to flourish.

25 min: Michael Hector does brilliantly to sweep up on halfway – but his next move is not so finely executed as he passes the ball out of play. And then Norwich hit them at speed, with Boyd chopping down Pukki.

There’s a party atmosphere inside Carrow Road.
There’s a party atmosphere inside Carrow Road. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

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24 min: Jamal Lewis surges down the left flank but Iorfa keeps pace with the full-back to cut out Onel Hernández’s beautifully weighted pass. And Sheffield Wednesday earn a goal-kick to boot. Great defending by the former Ipswich defender.

22 min: Max Aarons marauds down the right, finding space on the overload and cuts the ball inside for Pukki but the striker is unable to trouble Dawson. Norwich are beginning to enjoy themselves. They’re dominating possession.

21 min: Sheffield Wednesday may feel a little hard done by given their positive and proactive approach to this game, but there is no doubting Norwich were slowly beginning to turn the screw. Carrow Road is rocking, safe in the knowledge they are well on the way to the six points they need to seal promotion.

GOAL! Norwich 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday (Stiepermann, 19)

Norwich edge a step closer to the Premier League. Marco Stiepermann plays a give-and-go with Onel Hernández and, when he picks it back up on the edge of the box, he hammers a first-time effort down the middle of goal with his left foot. It was not in the corner, but the power sent it flying beyond Dawson.

Marco Stiepermann scores...
Marco Stiepermann scores... Photograph: JASONPIX/Rex/Shutterstock
...and celebrates.
...and celebrates. Photograph: Stephen Pond/Getty Images

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16 min: Lees plays Onel Hernández onside and Dawson makes a fantastic save with his right leg! The winger was slipped in, with Norwich suddenly two-on-one. He did everything right, but the Wednesday keeper did well to shut him out, with Pukki lurking for the rebound. Despite a couple of scares, Bruce will be relatively happy with this start. Norwich have not had it all their own way.

15 min: A half chance for the Argos-loving Onel Hernández, but Michael Hector is equal to it. But back come Norwich ...

14 min: Boyd has the ball in the net – but the Wednesday forward was a fraction offside. Dominic Iorfa surged forward, threaded Boyd through and he rolled it beyond Krul, but the linesman had his flag up.

13 min: Fletcher heads over for Wednesday! They zip the ball around, it’s a lovely move and it culminates with Fletcher to head over Palmer’s cross from the left. There were a couple of neat triangles outside the box and Matias, who was a substitute at Leeds last time out, has been influential early on.

12 min: Tom Lees, the Wednesday captain, attempts to kickstart a move forward, via Josh Onomah. Liam Palmer is played in down the left flank, putting Max Aarons in a pickle but Norwich clear their lines.

11 min: Forestieri has a crack from distance – all of 30 yards – and Tim Krul ends up nodding it away with his head, as it bounced up dangerously in front of him. Sheffield Wednesday have settled but Norwich remain in the ascendency.

9 min: Stiepermann bludgeons it towards goal, but it is hammered straight at Dawson, who gladly gathers the free-kick after his error.

7 min: Cameron Dawson handles the ball outside the box – and earns a yellow card for his misdemeanour! Dawson rushes out of goal to collect a high ball by Stiepermann and is penalised for deliberate handball. Just as well it is only a yellow for Wednesday, who have no goalkeeper on the bench at Carrow Road following an injury to Keiren Westwood in the warm-up. Dawson was promoted to the starting lineup at the last minute, and looked decidedly rusty there. Stiepermann shapes to shoot ...

Cameron Dawson is booked.
Cameron Dawson is booked. Photograph: Joe Toth/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

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6 min: Pukki jinks inside George Boyd and blasts over! Marvellous foot-work from the Finn, after Norwich countered at speed. Some pinball in the Norwich box gave Wednesday some promise, with Matias again lurking but the hosts did well to turn over possession and pour forward, following a daisy-cutter by Steven Fletcher.

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4 min: Marco Matias shuffles into the box, but Leitner makes a timely interception. Moments earlier Trybull clattered Forestieri but Sheffield Wednesday failed to do anything with the initial free-kick. But they recycled possession and Matias weaved his way into the box unchallenged. As promising as Norwich’s start was, Sheffield Wednesday have not turned up to merely roll over. They, too, have shown some early intent.

2 min: Moritz Leitner, making his first start since December, wins the ball back in the engine room to kickstart another move. Norwich have missed Buendia – but Leitner’s return is a big plus.

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1 min: Pukki wins the ball on halfway and immediately drives forward. But, unusually, was a little selfish and ran into trouble, with Stiepermann in space to his left. His backheel doesn’t come off and the move breaks down. There’s already a great party atmosphere inside the stadium.

Delia Smith is up for this one.
Delia Smith is up for this one. Photograph: Joe Toth/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

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Peeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Norwich get things started at Carrow Road.

A blow for Sheffield Wednesday on the brink of kick-off: Keiren Westwood has injured his knee and Cameron Dawson will replace him in goal. Westwood was absolutely phenomenal at Elland Road last weekend and has been superb since being recalled.

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A sun-drenched Carrow Road is looking gorgeous. Kick-off will be on us in no time. A quick reminder that Mo Leitner is back in for Norwich, while Josh Onomah, the Tottenham loanee, makes his first Sheffield Wednesday appearance since February.

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Teemu Pukki is closing on the Championship golden boot. The Finnish striker, a free transfer last summer, has netted 27 goals and counting this campaign. “It has been an unbelievable year,” Pukki said earlier this month, after picking up the EFL player of the year award. “We have played some quality football and we have some brilliant young guys coming through. It’s a pleasure to play in this team because I know I will get chances in every game. To go up as champions is a lot more than just going up. When I came we didn’t talk much about targets but you could see the potential.”

Daniel Farke speaks. “All the other results do not matter, we are just fully concentrated on our game,” the Norwich head coach says. “Sheffield Wednesday are a very good team and we have a difficult task. Moritz Leitner was crucial for many, months and we got the opportunity to bring him back in tonight. We can play full of self-confidence but under Steve Bruce they have had just two losses so they hard to beat. Each and every point is important.” Bruce adds: “It is a long, long time since I played here [1987] but it’s a great little club and I’m delighted they are where they are.”

This Norwich team has been a breath of fresh air, a spine comprising of invaluable experience – Tim Krul, Marco Stiepermann, Mo Leitner, Teemu Pukki and co – and, beyond that, they possess a youthful exuberance. Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis (who were both picked up from Luton in their mid-teens) have been revelations at full-back, while the classy Ben Godfrey, who spent last season on loan at Shrewsbury, has excelled since coming into the defence in December. Then there’s Todd Cantwell.

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Team news!

Norwich City: Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis; Trybull, Leitner; McLean, Stiepermann, Hernandez; Pukki

Subs: Oxborough, Vrancic, Klose, Tettey, Hanley, Srbeny, Cantwell

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Lees, Hector, Iorfa; Palmer, Onomah, Hutchinson, Boyd; Forestieri, Fletcher, Matias

Subs: Dawson, Fox, Pelupessy, Bannan, Winnall, Nuhiu, Joao

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

Preamble

Having done the hard part, the rest is simple for Norwich City. Well, relatively: if they can turn over Sheffield Wednesday and beat Stoke City on Monday then they will seal not only promotion but also the Championship title. Win tonight and Daniel Farke’s side will move seven points clear of second-placed Sheffield United with only a remaining nine up for grabs. In short, Norwich are very nearly there, almost over the line. Victories at this stage of the season are not a given however: just ask Marcelo Bielsa. Steve Bruce was all but resigned to Wednesday’s season being over after defeat to Leeds last weekend and, if they are beaten at Carrow Road, then the play-offs will almost certainly be beyond them, even if not mathematically. In terms of team news, Emil Buendia serves the final game of a three-match suspension, while Jordan Rhodes is ineligible to face his parent club. Adam Reach is touch-and-go for Wednesday after picking up an achilles injury.

Kick-off: 7.45pm (BST)