Sheffield Wednesday: The double-edged sword of international duty

Kamil Zayatte
Kamil Zayatte
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Stuart Gray has bemoaned the timing of Kamil Zayatte’s international duty but says the headache of having players away is something he would like to experience more of.

The Owls have seen Zayatte join Stevie May and Keiren Westwood in being called up for international duty.

And the absence of the centre half is particularly untimely given the suspension of skipper Glenn Loovens which has ruled him out of Saturday’s trip to Bolton Wanderers.

Gray, however, refuses to be downbeat about seeing his players jet off rather than remaining at Middlewood Road.

“It can give you a few headaches but it’s generally a good reflection of how well you’re doing,” Gray told the Star.

“You want to be successful and the more successful you are, the more players you’re going to have on international duty.

“Hopefully it is something we’ll be experiencing more of.

“It’s part of the everyday running of Premier League clubs but it can take a bit of getting used to.”

Keeper Westwood returned to light training with the Owls yesterday after cutting short his duty for Republic of Ireland due to a bout of tonsillitis.

And May is set to report back tomorrow after making his final two appearances for Scotland U21.

Zayatte will feature for Guinea tonight in Uganda in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying and is not due back for training with his club until Friday morning.

His late return means new signing Claude Dielna is likely to get the nod to replace Loovens at centre back.

Gray said: “We’ve had a really good look at Claude working in the back four in training this week,” Gray told the Star.

“It’s a one-on-one race whether to give him his debut or go with Kamil, subject to him coming back from international duty ok.”

Gray has been impressed with what he has seen Dielna so far since his arrival on a three-year deal ten days ago.

The versatile defender played the full 90 minutes in the Owls U21’s 2-1 win over Swansea last Friday, switching from centre half to left full back and finishing as a defensive midfielder.

Gray said: “He showed his versatility in that game and it was an impressive performance.

“Claude’s got a great range of passing with that left foot and he’s very comfortable on the ball. He’s a very talented boy which is why we were so keen to bring him in.

“He’s an aggressive player which is something he’ll have to keep an eye on.

“Claude’s got to know when he can’t go in over the top but I’d always rather see full commitment.”