LISTEN: Strong Sheffield Wednesday line-up for FA Cup tie against Carlisle United as Lee Bullen denies players are too comfortable
Interim boss Lee Bullen has promised to field a strong side when the Owls travel to League Two Carlisle United in the FA Cup third round this Saturday.
Bullen slammed Wednesday’s players after their “embarrassing” and “totally unacceptable” 3-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Burton Albion on New Year’s Day.
It was the Owls’ fifth loss in their last six matches.
Bullen insists he plans on taking the cup seriously, saying: “If I am still in charge, I will put my strongest team out after that (Burton). It is a great opportunity to give one or two people a game, but I think now we have got to win the game. With a performance like that (Burton), we will have a hard time up at Carlisle. We have got to win the game.”
Wednesday, without a raft of key players due to injury, will welcome back George Boyd. The experienced wide man is back in full training after recovering from shoulder surgery. Sam Hutchinson (quad) could also feature against a Carlisle side who have lost their last two matches.
Following their humiliating home defeat to Burton, Bullen vehemently denied the players have become complacent. A big proportion of the squad are tied down to long-term contracts.
The Scot said: “I would hate to even comment on that. Knowing the type of boys in the changing room, no, they are not too comfortable.
“Maybe it is a thing you could say about certain professional footballers nowadays in general. But not here. They do have a desire to succeed.
“But it looks as if one or two are maybe not showing it at the moment. But that comes down to confidence and getting the breaks at the right time and making wrong decisions at the wrong time.
“We have got a good group of players who are just not performing at the moment.
“Please don’t just bad-mouth them like that. I just feel that’s a bit harsh on them, going individually.
“I fully understand the fans’ reaction at the end and two or three times during the game after Brentford and this.
“But I will tell you what, two or three of them were very vocal in the changing room and I gave them the platform as well.
“I said my piece and then two or three of them were willing to dig out team-mates and be honest in their asseseement. They weren’t having a fight with each other, but it was: ‘come on, say your piece.’ I wanted to be honest and open up and a couple of them did. When you are honest in your opinion of your own performance and have not performed as well as you can, you do normally.”
Meanwhile, Wednesday have recalled young winger Jack Stobbs from his loan spell at Port Vale. The 20-year-old was due to remain at Vale Park until the end of the season but the Owls triggered their January recall option. Stobbs made two starts and six substitute appearances for the Valiants.
Stobbs is ineligble for the Owls’ tie at Brunton Park, having already featured in the competition for Vale this season.