Ian Holloway predicts the first leg of Sheffield Wednesday v Brighton & Hove Albion

The Sky Sports pundit is predicting a first-leg win for the Owls.

Ian Holloway is backing Sheffield Wednesday to overcome Brighton & Hove Albion in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final on Friday.

Writing in his weekly Sky Sports predictions column, the two-time play off winner is predicting a 2-1 win for Wednesday, and says he'd be "delighted" if the underdogs live up to his billing against the side who finished 15 points ahead of them in third.

And Holloway adds that coming into the play-offs as the least-fancied team can work in the Owls favour.

"I always love the underdog and will be delighted for them to defy the odds, although Brighton deserve to go up," the 53-year-old told Sky Sports.

"Hillsborough will be rocking and rolling, the locals will be right up for this and their team will be able to play with the shackles off."

He continued: "Brighton will probably be looking to keep this tight then get them down to the Amex on Monday. But I've got a sneaky feeling Wednesday will give their home fans something to shout about. Home win."

Holloway will know all about Wednesday's predicament, having led Blackpool and Crystal Palace into the Premier League against the odds through the Championship's back door.

Last week, before Brighton's final league position was confirmed, the Bristolian tipped the Owls as his "little favourite" for promotion and praised head coach Carlos Carvalhal as a "breath of fresh air".

However, Holloway's comments can perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt by Brighton fans, considering his association with Palace - the Seagulls' fierce rivals.

The Eagles beat Brighton at the same stage three years ago, before edging past Watford in the final at Wembley.

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