Sheffield Wednesday: Gray unfazed over Owls goal shortage

Royston Drenthe is waiting for his first Owls start.
Royston Drenthe is waiting for his first Owls start.
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Sheffield Wednesday’s lack of Championship goals is of no concern to head coach Stuart Gray.

Only Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers, the bottom two clubs in the division, have managed fewer goals than the Owls this campaign.

Despite racking up 18 points from their opening 13 fixtures, Wednesday have registered just 11 goals. Indeed, Gray’s men have scored a meagre three times in their own backyard.

But Gray, who is aiming to bolster his forward line before tomorrow’s encounter with Norwich, is unfazed by their attacking shortcomings, insisting the goals will come.

He said: “We have to keep re-producing on the training pitch game scenarios. We are not conceding many.

“I would be more concerned if we weren’t creating chances. At the moment, we are and the opposition keeper is pulling off some good saves.

“We have to keep plugging away and believing it will happen in games. Some days they will fly in for you. Some days they won’t. Unfortunately, we are not getting that break in front of goal.”

The Wednesday chief said he is satisfied with the service the midfield are providing his strikers. Speaking at his pre-match press briefing yesterday, Gray cited Ipswich Town and Leeds United as fixtures where they missed an opportunity to claim maximum points because of their below-par finishing.

“I don’t think we have probably got players at this club who just need one chance and bury it,” admitted Gray “More often than not, those players are playing at Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

“We are having to create a lot of chances to get our noses in front. When we have got our noses in front, we haven’t got the second goal in the Ipswich and Leeds games. We just need to give the defence something to hang on to.

“The hardest part of a game of football is putting the ball in the back of the net and we are just struggling at the moment.”

Coaxing more goals out of all departments of his team is Gray’s main mission.

He said: “We do crossing and finishing on a regular basis. The players are working their socks off. We put on sessions that are realistic and we just want them to grab that opportunity.

“It is a case of relaxing and concentrating on that last touch of the ball which is the most important.

“My forwards just want chances and we have to create chances for them. I’ve got to get players scoring from all parts of the field.”

Royston Drenthe is “very close” to making his first Wednesday start, according to Gray. The former Real Madrid winger has featured on six occasions as a substitute since arriving on a temporary basis from Reading.

“When Royston first came to the club, he had not played any football or had a proper pre-season,” stressed Gray. “He can give us that little bit of quality but he’s been used as an impact player.

“Royston has to transfer what he does at the training ground to a match situation. He will come into my thoughts but it’s not just him. There are other players as well.”

Drenthe stood out after coming on as a half-time replacement in Saturday’s 3-0 drubbing to Watford but Gray argued: “I’m not being disrespectful but sometimes it is easier to come on when you are two nil down. Watford took their foot off the gas.

“I thought we dominated possession when Royston came on and he looked the only one like scoring and creating a chance for us. He is getting fit and is very close to starting.”

Gray will be without the services of Sam Hutchinson for the next two months. The former Chelsea youngster picked up a knee injury against Watford and a scan result has confirmed he has suffered cartilage damage.

He said: “It’s not Sam’s old injury, it’s a new injury in the knee.

“The specialist has examined Sam and we’re probably looking at a time scale of around two months.

“At first, Sam feared it was his old injury but it’s going to be a while getting him back.

“Sam is relieved. The specialist has given him a lift because he was very, very down and disappointed.

“Players don’t want to be in the treatment room, so it’s disappointing but that is the hand we have been dealt and we have to get on with it.”

With Hutchinson facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Gray has not ruled out signing a replacement on loan.

“We are always looking,” he said.