Sheffield Wednesday: Gray warning as he offers fresh start

Owls midfielder Rhys McCabe.
Owls midfielder Rhys McCabe.
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A clean-slate policy will be in operation at Hillsborough this summer.

But Sheffield Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray has warned his players they must shine in pre-season if they are to stake a claim for a first-team place.

The Owls players report back for training today following the summer break and Gray insists members of the squad who were on the periphery last season, such as midfield duo Rhys McCabe and Paul Corry, will be given the chance to impress him before the new Championship campaign starts on August 9.

He told The Star: “It (pre-season) is a fresh start for everyone.

“At this moment, the squad isn’t the biggest so there will be opportunities but they’ve got to train and play well. If they get the shirt, they’ve got to keep hold of it.

“That will be dictated by the way they perform in the matches and also Monday to Friday on the training ground.”

All of Gray’s squad received their own individual, fitness programmes a fortnight after the 2013/14 season ended. Players who have failed to keep themselves in good physical condition will be hauled in for extra training.

“The ones who haven’t done them (the programmes) will stick out like a sore thumb and will be doing extra training,” said Gray.

“But I have got a great bunch of lads who I trust. They are very dedicated and I’ve got every confidence that they will comeback fit.”

Gray, who is working hard on bringing in some new faces, says the footballs will come out straight away at their Middlewood training base.

“I’m a great believer in you train how you play and play how you train,” he said. “Pre-season will be a high intensity. We will be pressing and closing teams down.

“We’ve got a summer where I can stamp my own mark on the team and the way I want the team to play.”

Wednesday travel to League Two side York City, managed by Owls legend Nigel Worthington, in their opening friendly on Saturday July 12, kick-off 3pm. The club have been allocated 2,000 tickets for the fixture. Tickets went on general sale yesterday and are priced at £12 for adults, £6 concessions and under 5s are free of charge.

For more information, ring 0871 900 1867 (£2 booking fee per ticket) or log on to Wednesday’s online shop.

*Wednesday’s full pre-season schedule: Saturday July 12: York v Owls (3pm); Friday July 18: Bury v Owls (7.45pm); Wednesday July 23: Owls v FK Cukaricki; Sunday July 27: Doncaster Rovers v Owls (3pm); Wednesday July 30: Owls v Newcastle (7.45pm); Saturday August 2: Barnsley v Owls (1pm)

*There have been two changes to Sheffield Wednesday’s 2014/15 Championship fixture list.

The Owls’ trip to Wigan Athletic, scheduled for Sunday December 28, has been switched to Tuesday December 30, kick-off 7.45pm.

The visit of Blackburn Rovers to Hillsborough on Tuesday, March 3, has been pushed back to Wednesday, March 4. The clash, with a 7.45pm kick off, will take place then given Sheffield United are also scheduled to play at home on the original date.