Sheffield Wednesday: Gray’s team follow in the footsteps of Dutch giants

Stuart Gray chats to fans
Stuart Gray chats to fans
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Some top clubs have visited the training complex Sheffield Wednesday are currently using in Slovenia as part of their pre-season preparations.

Dutch giants Ajax and PSV have previously sharpened up their players by taking them to the Maribor training facility.

A number of English clubs, including Hull City and Birmingham City, have also spent time at the venue fine-tuning their fitness levels and style of play.

Owls boss Stuart Gray, who took part in an informal question and answer session with a selection of Wednesday supporters as part of the club’s corporate hospitality package on Sunday, told The Star: “The facilities are fantastic here.

“Leicester City used this place last season. I spoke to Nigel Worthington when we recently played York in a friendly and, when he was in charge of Northern Ireland, he brought his team here.

“It’s a quality place and we are working the boys very hard.”

Gray is putting his squad through their paces with double training sessions a day, culminating in a friendly with newly-promoted Russian outfit FC Arsenal Tula tomorrow night at The Ptuj City Stadium.

“The camp is good for team bonding; it’s a chance for the new players to get to know the rest of the team,” said Gray. “It’s building the team spirit which is vital because it’s a long hard season.

“You are in a hotel together for five days so you are in each other’s company all the time.

“I’m a great believer in the team is the most important thing. You’ve got individuals with various skills but you can’t win anything with individuals. You have to have a collective team spirit.”

Caolan Lavery is a doubt for the Owls warm-up match against Arsenal Tula. The young forward was taken off in the second half of Friday’s clash with Bury after picking up a knee injury.

Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland and winger Jack Stobbs, meanwhile, have missed out on the trip abroad. Kirkland was left behind after suffering concussion in training last week while Stobbs is nursing an ankle problem.

Highly-rated youngster Stobbs tweeted: “Gutted to be out with injury but only determined to come back fitter and stronger ready for the season!”

The Star is making a donation to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice as part of an agreement with Sheffield Wednesday over coverage of their pre-season trip to Slovenia.