Sheffield Wednesday: Gray plans to mix and match in friendlies

Stuart Gray is aiming to give game time to all his players during the first few pre-season friendlies.
Stuart Gray is aiming to give game time to all his players during the first few pre-season friendlies.
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Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray has confirmed he plans on utilising all of his squad in their pre-season friendlies.

A trip to Bootham Crescent on Saturday afternoon to take on York City will be the Owls’ first match back in action since Mat 3 when they were beaten 2-1 by Ipswich Town on the final day of the Championship season.

Gray told The Star: “There will be a fair bit of rotation in the first few games to give the players minutes.

“You can run all day but nothing beats the intensity of matches.”

After facing York City, managed by Owls legend Nigel Worthington, Gray’s men lock horns with Bury a week on Friday a day before the team fly out to Slovenia’s second largest city Maribor for a five-day training camp.

While in Slovenia, Wednesday will face Russian Premier League side FC Arsenal Tula in a warm-up match on Wednesday July 23 at The Ptuj City Stadium, kick-off 6pm local time. Serbian SuperLiga outfit FK Čukarički had originally been arranged to be the Owls’ opponents but had to pull out due to their European commitments. FK Čukarički are in the qualifying rounds for the Europa League.

Following their trip abroad, Gray’s charges head to Doncaster Rovers on Sunday, July 27. Wednesday then welcome Newcastle United to Hillsborough on Wednesday, July 30 and round off their pre-season programme with a trip to Barnsley on Saturday, August 2.

Gray is desperate to have a fit and healthy squad for their Championship curtain-raiser at Brighton and Hove Albion on August 9.

“Hopefully we can get through pre-season with no injuries,” he said. “We’ve got to be careful we don’t over strain or over use them.

“The most important thing is I have a fully fit side come August.”

One of the players Gray feels will benefit from taking part in a full pre-season programme is Atdhe Nuhiu. The big striker moved to South Yorkshire in July last year and Gray said: “It wasn’t ideal getting him in so late but sometimes you have to do it that way.”