Head coach Stuart Gray saluted his “fantastic “ Owls side in the wake of their 2-1 defeat Manchester City in the third round of the FA Cup.
Atdhe Nuhiu claimed his seventh goal of the season to give Wednesday a shock half-time lead at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.
But the Premier League champions battled back to book their place in the fourth round of the competition after a second half double from James Milner. The England international grabbed a last-minute winner to deny the Owls a replay and leave Gray disappointed with the final scoreline but “proud” of their display.
The Wednesday chief, who confirmed Claude Dielna was taken off after suffering a knee injury, said: “I’m so proud of the players. They deserve a lot of credit. They put in a fantastic shift and we held our own against the champions.
“I’m just disappointed for the fans that we couldn’t get them back to Hillsborough because it would have been a sell out.
“We are six points off the play-offs and we’ve got to make sure all the hard work we put in today. We’ve got to build on it and we will take great confidence and heart from the performance.”
Gray also paid tribute to the 5,500 Owls fans who cheered the team on throughout.
“From the first minute to the 94th minute, they got behind the lads,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough because it’s not cheap to watch football. It would have been nice to have got a goal at their end.”
First-choice Wednesday shot-stopper Keiren Westwood, a boyhood City fan, was left out after picking up a calf strain in training on Saturday. Gray hopes he will be fit to take on Nottingham Forest this weekend.
“He picked up a calf injury; it was too much of a gamble to play him,” said Gray, who remains discussions with Watford over bringing Lewis McGugan back to Hillsborough. “Chris [Kirkland] came in and did excellently.
“The most important thing is to get Keiren right for Saturday.”