Sheffield Wednesday: Owls boss throws down gauntlet to trio

Owls winger Royston Drenthe
Owls winger Royston Drenthe
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Sheffield Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray has challenged his fringe wingers to force their way into his thoughts over the international break.

Gray will have to make one enforced change to his starting line-up when the Owls take on joint Championship leaders Watford a week tomorrow.

Chris Maguire is ruled out of the Hillsborough showdown after picking up his fifth caution of the season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leeds United, meaning he serves a one-match suspension.

His absence opens the door ajar to players such as Jeremy Helan, Royston Drenthe and Hallam Hope. The trio are still waiting to make their first Championship starts.

Gray told The Star: “All three of them have played a part and have been very close to starting.

“They all know Chris [Maguire] is missing the next game but it is up to them to perform in training and force my hand.”

Helan has started just one of Wednesday’s opening 14 fixtures, their Capital One Cup triumph at Burnley in August. The Frenchman has featured eight times as a substitute.

Loanees Drenthe and Hope, recruited from Reading and Everton respectively before the transfer window shut on September 1, have made seven appearances from the bench between them sinve moving to Wednesday on a temporary basis.

Gray says it is understandable that some players will have frustrations about their lack of game time.

“Any player that you bring into a club wants to play,” he said. “It’s been frustrating for Royston and Hallam. They have had to bide their time.

“But credit to the lads who have been in front of them. They have grabbed the shirts and kept a hold of them.”