SHEFFIELD Wednesday crept almost silently into fifth spot in the Premier League - and in line for a coveted European place - as the headline writers looked to tiny Stockport County to perform a miracle. The miracle, to overcome a 2-0 deficit and claim a League Cup final place at the expense of Middlesbrough, didn't happen but the lion's share of attention was concentrated on the Riverside Stadium. While that was going on, Middlesbrough's neighbours Sunderland who surprisingly beat Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday, lost by the same score at Wednesday after leading through Kevin Ball. David Hirst and Dejan Stefanovic scored for the Owls to increase their chances of flying into next season's UEFA Cup. For Wednesday, the celebrations surrounding their win were just as emotive as Bryan Robson and his Teessiders' at clinching a Wembley appearance. David Pleat's men have suffered just one defeat in the last 22 league games and there is a quiet confidence returning to Hillsborough after a flying start and then dramatic slump in this year's campaign. Club spokesman Graham Mackrell summed up the mood of the moment by saying: 'We know we won't win the league - Manchester United should do that - but we do think we are good enough to get into the UEFA Cup and the way the results are falling for us European football here next season is very much on the cards. 'We have been hampered by changing personnel through injury and loss of form but now it seems that everyone is gelling together at the right time. 'We have lost Jon Newsome and Graham Hyde, probably in Jon's case until next season. We will miss both of them but we have other people coming in and doing well. 'On the positive side, we have Regi Blinker back after suspension and Wayne Collins, our GBP700,000 buy from Crewe is also in line to return. 'We have had some ups and downs but in general we are happy with our lot.' Wednesday, who topped the table at the beginning of the season through prolific scoring exploits by Richie Humphreys and Andy Booth, are now looking to other players to hit the back of the net. Former Red Star Belgrade defender Stefanovic, signed for GBP2 million, notched the winner against Sunderland and has struck up a solid understanding with Des Walker in Wednesday's defence, which has contributed to their great run of results. Tomorrow's match against table-toppers Manchester United will provide another test for their skills and perhaps give Owls' fans the impetus they need to see Europe as a reality. 'There is no doubt that tomorrow's game is vital to us and we know we must take something from it - or depend on other results - to see our hopes of a place in Europe continuing,' Mackrell said. 'We are confident at the moment and there are no fears about going to Old Trafford, especially when you look at some of the results over the past few weeks. 'With Walker and Stefanovic we feel we can contain their attacking thrusts and we know we have players who can score goals, like David Hirst, who always seems to come good for us at the right time.' Hirst brought Wednesday back into the game against Sunderland, grabbing the equaliser in the 42 minute after Kevin Ball had given the visitors the lead, and a lot of hope, in the 28th. The former Barnsley man, who has been at Hillsborough since 1986, had been living in the shadow of local scoring sensation Booth, signed from Huddersfield at the start of the season and home-grown product Humphreys, who came through the trainee scheme. Now he has reasserted himself with some vital goals for the club as the young guns hit a lean spell. Wednesday had high hopes of a Wembley appearance this season, only to be dashed by the Wimbledon bandwagon, the Dons knocking them out of the FA Cup in the sixth round 2-0 in Sheffield last Sunday. 'Going out of the cup was a big blow to us because we were playing well and we thought we were in with a real chance after so many of the fancied teams - like United, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool - went out of the competition early,' Mackrell said. 'We knew the tie with Wimbledon would be a hard one but we took the view that they were going for everything and playing so many matches that we might just catch them on the hop, being a bit jaded, and get through to at least the semi-final stage. 'That was not to be, but perhaps it is a blessing in disguise since we can now concentrate on Premier League points. The extra game in the cup could also have put a strain on our injury list and the last thing we want is to lose any more players.' With a run-in to the end of the season which includes Leeds (home), Villa (away), Leicester (away), Newcastle (home), Wimbledon (home), Blackburn (away) and West Ham (home) there is some room for optimism - but a few potential pitfalls as well.