dave Jones is urging his Wednesday players to believe in themselves as they bid to end a four-match losing run at Hillsborough tonight.
The Owls manager’s message to the team is: “Be strong, be brave and have the confidence to show the fans you can play.”
Jones has no doubts that the players are good enough to climb away from the bottom three and can bounce back against Watford.
He admits: “You’re always concerned when you’re not winning. Everybody who’s in a dogfight will always be concerned.
“I just think the players are good enough to get themselves out of it.
“But they have to realise that.
“It can turn all of a sudden. You have to make it turn. You can’t feel sorry for yourself.”
Although the Owls were outplayed by Leicester on Saturday, he points out that in many earlier games the team’s performances were not reflected in results.
“They’re a great group to work with, but they have to realise they’re better than where they are at the moment. I think some of them don’t believe that enough.
“In some of the games we should have got better results; that’s the positive side, the negative is that they have to believe in themselves more.”
Jones could tinker with the side in an effort to restore tha creativity that was missed in the Leicester game.
Chris Lines is in contention for his first league start of the season after making his comeback as a sub on Saturday.
“When he got injured he was playing some of the best football he had played in a long time,” said Jones.
“He wants to get back. All the lads in the treatment room are chomping at the bit because they all want to help, and a that’s a good thing to have.”
When asked if Lines is ready to start a game, Jones replied: “If I play him from the start, we’ll find that out.
“I might have to change it. I might have to look at different things.
“I might have to leave players out who are everybody’s favourites.”
That last comment could suggest than even Jose Semedo’s place is not safe, especially after the disappointment that Jones expressed over the performance of the midfield department against Leicester.
Chris O’Grady, who has been out with a foot injuty, trained yesterday and the striker will be assessed today.
Five players were spared training yesterday because of knocks and bruises, and “one or two” have had the stomach bug that has lingered in the camp, said Jones, who added that he will pick his team today.
He admits that the Owls are on a “horrible” run: “We all have a responsibility to give the fans something to cheer about.
“But the fans have been right behind them (the team). Speaking to fans in the street, they’re still behind them. You always get a minority (of critics); I never knock anybody on that score, because everybody has an opinion. The players will battle through this; they have to. They’re good people; as long as they believe, they will do it.”
Wednesday face a Watford side who favour a possession style of play and are unbeaten in five games.
Jones says: “They’ve brought in a lot of foreign players and seem to be playing in a foreign style. We’re at home, we’ll have our support behind us; the players have to believe they can get it right and get a result.
“There’s no hiding place on that pitch. It’s the only place in the stadium where you can’t hide. I want them to be big, strong and, more importantly, brave.
“I keep saying (to the players): ‘Get your finger out, start believing, start doing it.
“Be brave and start to put it together. Go and get the ball. Don’t be frightened of it. It doesn’t matter if you give it away, go and get it.’
“If I was over-worried I would say so. But what they have to do is believe in themselves a bit more.”
Teams and ref
OWLS (possible): Kirkland, Buxton, Taylor, Gardner, Helan, Antonio, Lines, McCabe, J Johnson, Bothroyd, Sidibe (4-4-1-1).
HORNETS (possible): Almunia, Ekstrand, Hall, Hoban, Anya, Yeates, Hogg, Chalobah, Pudil, Deeney, Vydra (4-4-2).
Tony Bates (Staffs): The last time he refereed Wednesday, they drew 0-0 at Rochdale after Gary Megson’s sacking, with caretaker boss Chris Evans in charge and Dave Jones watching from the stand. Bates has issued 30 yellow cards and two reds in 11 games this season; his last one was Bradford 1 Plymouth 0 last Tuesday.