Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal feels the Sky Bet Championship play-offs are too close to call and his side only have a slim chance of promotion.
The Owls set up a semi-final meeting with Huddersfield after closing the regular campaign with a 2-1 defeat at home to Fulham, who will play Reading in the end-of-season showpiece.
Wednesday, who will visit the John Smith’s Stadium first, took the lead against the Cottagers through Sam Winnall but ended a run of seven successive wins when Neeskens Kebano scored twice for the visitors.
With just five points covering the four teams in the play-offs, and fourth-placed Wednesday and the fifth-spotted Terriers only separated by goal difference, Carvalhal insists his side have no more than a 25 per cent chance of winning promotion to the Premier League.
“We achieved more points than last season – seven more, I think. Last season we finished sixth, this season we arrive in fourth position,” said the Portuguese, whose side lost to Hull in the play-off final last year.
“We were underdogs last year but this season it is more balanced because the table doesn’t lie. There is a small points difference, so we will have a 25 per cent chance this season.
“It will be very hard to beat Huddersfield. The count is now zero, now everything starts from zero. All the four teams have a good quality of football.”
Carvalhal made 10 changes to his side, suggesting he was not too bothered who his semi-final opponents were, and he concluded the most important thing was protecting the players who got the Owls into the top six.
“I am happy with the way they fought at the end. This game was not important in the scoreline, it was important to give my players time ahead of the play-offs,” said Carvalhal, who saw Marco Matias sent off in the first half.
“It is our priority to try and protect players in terms of injuries and red cards for the play-offs – that is a priority. I would be a very stupid person to lose three or four players in a game that doesn’t matter and not have them for the play-off semi-final.
“We will be ready, we had a fantastic season, we achieved with a good set of results – this is most important to us and now we are ready.”
Along with Wednesday, Fulham have been one of the form sides towards the end of the season, snatching the last play-off spot from Leeds.
But boss Slavisa Jokanovic still thinks third-placed Reading are the favourites.
He said: “We won the game, we finished the regular season very well. I must be satisfied.
“I am satisfied with the result and because no-one is injured after the game so we have a clear situation in front of us.
“We have a tough game against Reading. They are the favourites – they finished behind the two automatically promoted teams.
“They are the favourites. We have to try and prepare ourselves and push hard and try and fight for the opportunity to play at Wembley.
“We are in good form, we believe we can play good football, we have good confidence.”