Sheffield Wednesday: Owls chief issues warning to Maguire

Owls winger Chris Maguire takes on Bolton's Dean Moxey
Owls winger Chris Maguire takes on Bolton's Dean Moxey
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Owls boss Stuart Gray has warned Chris Maguire to rediscover his best form if he wants to retain his place in the starting line-up.

Maguire has so far struggled to reach the heights of last season where he finished Wednesday’s leading goal-scorer with 10 goals.

His set plays and end product from wide areas have disappointed at times during the 2014/15 campaign and the Scot has only contributed one goal in eight starts.

Gray said: “Chris thrives on goals. In the first half at Bolton, he had one cleared off the line and two other shots. Chris gets his confidence from goals but the effort he is putting in for the team is excellent.

“But what I’ve got now is competition for places and what the players do know is that if they fall away they are out of the team.”

Maguire was taken off just after the hour mark in Saturday’s goalless draw at Bolton Wanderers. Royston Drenthe, his replacement, could have got on the score-sheet on several occasions as Wednesday stretched their unbeaten away run to four outings. The former Real Madrid star is expected to figure in some capacity at Birmingham City tonight.

“I was disappointed for Royston because he should have had a couple of goals at Bolton,” said Gray.

“But he needs time. He hasn’t played a lot of football. I asked him if he had 30 minutes in him at Bolton, as daft as that sounds, because he hasn’t played in pre-season.

“Royston excites the crowd. He can take any full-back on and take the ball up the pitch for you by 50 to 60 yards. Once we get him match sharp and fully fit, I think we’ve got an outstanding player.”

Wednesday sit in 12th position after their opening six league fixtures despite having hit the back of the net a meagre five times.

Gray is adamant they should be higher up in the standings. Citing the Millwall, Nottingham Forest and Bolton matches as missed opportunities, he thinks they have squandered at least five points.

Although Gray was delighted with the amount of chances the side created at Bolton, he is calling on his players to be more clinical in the final third. He felt the players quality in possession from open play was “excellent” and that they got into several promising positions. But Gray admits their final ball was “not good enough” to break down an insipid Bolton outfit.

He said: “The forwards need service. We are getting into areas of the field where we’ve got to punish teams. We need a bit more quality.”

Wednesday look a compact, difficult team to break down on the road, shipping in two just goals and both penalties at Middlesbrough.

Nonetheless, Gray faces a defensive selection headache, with skipper Glenn Loovens available again after a one-match ban. The classy Dutchman sat out Saturday’s trip to Lancashire, having chalked up five yellow cards, and is vying with Kamil Zayatte for a centre-back slot.

“Lees and Zayatte have shown that they can play together, doing ever so well at Burnley and Bolton,” said Gray.“I’ve got that competition. Kamil has come in and played very well. That’s why the decision is tough.

“Glenn is an experienced, calm player. He’s got unbelievable leadership qualities both in the dressing room and on the training pitch.”

Hallam Hope took part in first-team training yesterday following a hamstring problem but he is unlikely to be risked at St Andrew’s.

Kieran Lee (groin) and Sam Hutchinson (back) remain on the sidelines.