Sheffield Wednesday’s caretaker boss Steve Agnew wants to present Steve Bruce with the ideal welcome home gift next week.
Agnew and Stephen Clemence have held fort at Hillsborough since being appointed as new Owls boss Bruce’s assistants at the start of the month.
Bruce returns from a pre-arranged family holiday to officially take up his new role on February 1 and Agnew believes Wednesday could kickstart their season by avoiding defeat at holders Chelsea in the FA Cup.
“If we get a positive result at Stamford Bridge it would be a fantastic achievement in that game, but I think it will filter through to the rest of the season among the staff and players,” Agnew said.
“It would certainly put Steve Bruce in a good mood coming in next week.”
Bruce, whose mother and father both died last year, wanted time out from football after being sacked by Aston Villa in October.
He has been following England cricket team’s early struggles against the West Indies in Barbados, but has been in regular contact with Agnew.
Agnew and Clemence, plus previous caretaker boss Lee Bullen, have guided the Owls to two wins, a draw and one defeat in their four games in charge and hand over the reins after Sunday’s televised fourth-round tie.
“I’m sure Steve will be watching the game,” said Agnew, who has discussed team selection with the former Birmingham, Hull and Villa boss.
“Steve is a top, top manager but I think he trusts both myself, Stephen and Lee to do the job.
“Although he will have his ideas on players, formations and tactics, he will give us his trust in terms of the final selection.”
Former Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal guided the club to the Sky Bet Championship play-offs in successive seasons.
But they finished 15th last season under Jos Luhukay and a top-flight return in this campaign looks unlikely as they sit 11 points adrift of the top six.
“Traditionally, Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday are two massive clubs,” Agnew said.
“Chelsea have gone on to be unbelievably successful in recent years and Sheffield Wednesday have been out of the Premier League for a while.
“It’s a fantastic football fixture for all involved. It’s the FA Cup so we are all really looking forward to the tie, as are 6,000 Sheffield Wednesday supporters.”
Owls’ on-loan defender Michael Hector is ineligible to face his parent club, while Matt Penney (shoulder) and Josh Onomah (hamstring) are still unavailable.
But Agnew has no new injury concerns and striker Fernando Forestieri could make his first appearance since early December after recovering from a hamstring problem.