Success in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy could be vital to Sheffield Wednesday's season, says Manager Alan Irvine as he look ahead to his team's Area Quarter-Final at home to npower League 1 rivals Hartlepool United.

For Irvine and the relegated Owls, who currently lie 10th in the table after a roller-coaster first third of the season, promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt is undoubtedly the top priority.

But the Manager told football-league.co.uk: "Winning games in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy helps build confidence and self-belief, so if we can beat Hartlepool that will make us feel good going into Saturday's League game.

"We're very serious about the Trophy - the teams I've put out in each round show that, and the fact that we've had the biggest crowds in each round confirms that everybody involved with the club regards the competition as important."

Wednesday evening's game will be the third Trophy tie in succession that the Owls have played on their own Hillsborough pitch, where they beat Notts County 2-1 then won on penalties after a 2-2 draw with League 2 leaders Chesterfield.

And they will be favourites to beat a Hartlepool team that at the end of August they beat 5-0 away from home, the result taking Irvine's side to the top of the table as they began the campaign in impressive style.

Results since, however, have been wildly contrasting and the Manager does not feel that the five-goal success at the Victoria Ground should be taken as an indicator of how the Trophy encounter with Pools will pan out.

"The game back in August doesn't have much of a bearing on Wednesday night's match," said Irvine. "It was a good day for us but a bad occasion for Hartlepool and they will see this Trophy game as the chance to settle a score.

"So we have to approach it in the right manner, be ready for the threats they will pose but obviously aim at the same time to give them the sort of problems we gave them when we went up there for the League game.

"That capped a fantastic start to the season for us, but we've been up and down in terms of results since. After a great August we had a terrible September, quite a good October but then we stumbled in our last couple of League games.

"It's fair enough to call it a roller-coaster in terms of results so far, but we didn't get carried away when things were going well nor when they weren't. Right now we just want to get the right result against Hartlepool and take it from there."

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