Sheffield Wednesday: Frustrated Gray sets sights on prolific striker

Owls boss Stuart Gray
Owls boss Stuart Gray
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When reflecting on Sheffield Wednesday’s goal-scoring problems, there is perhaps one statistic which will hurt Owls boss Stuart Gray more than all of them combined.

With less than two months remaining of the 2014/15 season, Owls are still waiting for a player to reach double figures.

Atdhe Nuhiu leads the way, getting on the score-sheet nine times in all competitions, but he and his teammates have failed to fire on a consistent basis.

Try as he might, Gray has yet to find a solution to Wednesday’s firepower shortage. He claims they are a proven forward away from possessing a side capable of mounting a sustained promotion challenge.

“Look at the teams who achieved promotion out of the Championship last season,” he told The Star. “Burnley had Danny Ings, QPR had Charlie Austin and Leicester had David Nugent. Those strikers got 20-plus goals.

“You just want that player in your team who can get 20 goals. Ideally, you want two.

“I think I know what’s needed to get out of the Championship. You need 17 clean sheets and then you need a couple of forwards who are going to get maybe 30 goals between them so hopefully we can strengthen on that side.

“Hopefully the takeover will allow me to look in a different market to what I was looking at before but I need to sit down with him [Dejphon Chansiri] to discuss the playing budget for next season.

“The chairman is willing to invest in the pitch and the training ground and then I’ve got to ask him about bringing better players in.”

Expect a new forward, or possibly two, to figure at the top of Gray’s summer shopping list as he looks to turn the Owls from a mid-table outfit into credible top-six contenders.

He said: “We are not far away.

“I know we have created a number of chances in games this season but we haven’t converted them.

“We’ve probably had six or seven games which we should have won but we’ve missed chances.

“We have not been clinical enough and that is probably where we have let ourselves down. We have thrown points away very cheaply by failing to kill off teams.

“We should be higher up in the league.”

It was the same old story in the midweek Hillsborough defeat to Blackburn Rovers. Wednesday failed to make their early dominance count and the visitors punished them, scoring twice in the space of nine first half minutes.

Their uncharacteristic defending left Gray frustrated and injuries to midfielder Jose Semedo (foot) and Kamil Zayatte (hamstring) compounded matters. Midfielder Semedo and defender Zayatte are big doubts for tomorrow’s trip to Blackpool.

Gray has threatened to wield the axe following their latest home setback.

“I’ve got players waiting to get into the team,” he said. “I say if you’ve got the shirt, don’t give it away.

“In that first half performance, far too many have probably given their shirt away.

“We are not going to win games of football if we perform like we did in the first half.

“The chairman has seen the Jekyll and Hyde in us at the moment. He saw a very good win on Saturday against Middlesbrough but he’s seen a disappointing first half versus Blackburn. We didn’t defend from the front against Blackburn as well as we did against Middlesbrough.

“We can’t be a 45 minute team. We have to play from the first minute to the 95th minute.”

Blackburn leapfrogged Wednesday into 10th position following their first away victory since October 25. Gray’s men trail sixth-placed Brentford by a whopping 15 points with just 11 matches to go.

He said: “We want to win every game. Mathematically it is still possible to get in the play-offs. Until we are told differently, we will keep pushing for them. We’ve got to carry on believing it is achievable. We want to finish as high as possible.”

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