Owls No 2 demands winning mentality

Danger man: Former Barnsley player Julian Gray has the ability to trouble Wednesday's back four.
Danger man: Former Barnsley player Julian Gray has the ability to trouble Wednesday's back four.
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CHRIS Evans, the Sheffield Wednesday assistant manager, has insisted there will be no let-up at Walsall.

The Saddlers are scrapping for survival and slipped back into the relegation zone after Notts County’s midweek triumph at Tranmere Rovers.

Managed by former Owls captain Dean Smith, Walsall are one point away from safety, having won just two of their last eight outings.

Smith, one of 13 players released by Chris Turner in 2004 at Hillsborough after the club suffered relegation into the third tier, is expected to start former Barnsley duo Julian Gray and Jon Macken in attack tomorrow as he bids to find a winning formula.

Gray, who can operate on either flank as a winger, has the pace and skill to frighten Wednesday’s backline while the hosts will rely on Macken to consistently hold the ball up and bring the midfield players into the contest.

Despite the Saddlers precarious position in the table, Evans is refusing to underestimate the Midland outfit.

Evans, who lives in Wolverhampton, said: “I saw them (Walsall) a few weeks ago beat Southampton at the Banks’s Stadium.

“We are going to need to be on our toes; there is no doubt about that. We want to give a good account of ourselves in the last four matches.

“They (Walsall) are in the relegation area. They have got a new manager looking after the players and they are an industrious side. It is important we get the players in the right frame of mind and make sure they put in a really good shift.”

With Wednesday having virtually secured their League One status thanks to a third successive home win last weekend against Hartlepool United, the focus has turned towards next year. Gary Megson and his cohorts appear destined to finish in mid-table.

Nonetheless, Evans wants the club to end a troubled year on a high note.

“We are not in and around where they (Walsall) are but it doesn’t provide us with any smugness,” he said. “We have a duty to fellow teams in the division who are down their scrapping at the bottom to play the best that we can.

“We will not go there to try and nick a point. It is about winning. Anything other than winning is not going to get us to where we want to be.”

Walsall have one enforced alteration to make at the back. Oliver Lancashire will fill in at the heart of the defence for the injured Clayton McDonald.