Sheffield Wednesday: Gray warns of Glovers fight

Chris Maguire is being challenged by Stuart Gray to overcome a dip in his scoring form
Chris Maguire is being challenged by Stuart Gray to overcome a dip in his scoring form
Have your say

Stuart Gray has told his players that they face a formidable threat to their nine-match unbeaten away run tomorrow though opponents Yeovil are next to bottom of the table.

The Owls boss expects the Glovers to be full of fight after earning a draw at Reading last week despite going down to eight men.

He said: “My team talk to the players is that this will probably be our hardest game so far because we’ve got a team who are scrapping for their lives.

“Any team that can go to Reading and lose three men and still get a draw, it just shows their commitment and it shows that whether you’re playing against eight, nine or 10 men, it’s difficult to win if you’re not converting chances.

“But we go there full of confidence. We have to impose our game on them and the most important thing is to match their workrate and commitment, and hopefully our quality on the ball will show and the result will take care of itself.”

Gray will be assessing whether or not to field Oguchi Onyewu and Caolan Lavery after their full games on Wednesday for the USA and Northern Ireland Under 21st respectively: “More so with Guchi, because he’s only just come back into the fold,” said Gray.

Onyewu returned to the Owls team only last week after injury. If he is rested, Miguel Llera or Adedeji Oshilaja will play.

Onyewu and Lavery arrived back at Middlewood yesterday.

Oshilaja has played only one game since being signed on loan from Cardiff.

Gray said: “He’s been so unlucky, I sat down and had a chat with him the other day. He was going to start at Reading, up until two o’clock, but we couldn’t get clearance in time as it was a cross-border move.

“In the end we dropped Semi (Jose Semedo) back to centre half; Dej played in the Wigan game and by that time we’d got Loovens and Guch back.

“So he’s been very unfortunate, and he’s been missing out because we’ve got six loans and you can only name five on the teamsheet.

“But I can’t fault his application. He’s an asset to Cardiff City. Credit to him; he’s trained very hard.”

Gray is also looking to Chris Maguire to rediscover his scoring form. The striker was named yesterday as the club’s Player of the Month for February but in the last five games he has not added to his six goals.

“He’s a centre forward or a player I can put out wide,” says the manager. “He’s chipped in with some goals.

“What he’s got to realise as well is that there will always be a little dip in your game; at the moment he’s putting a shift in for the team but not having that break in front of goal.

“What I will say is ‘never stop stop trying, never stop shooting’ and credit to Chris: he’ll take responsibility.

“The only time I will criticise him is if somebody else is in a better position and he can slip somebody in rather than taking the shot on.

“He’s rolled his sleeves up and he’s had a good go. He’s working his socks off, He’s had his break. He’s stayed in the team. The challenge for him is to keep the shirt.”

Gray also believes that the team cannot take safety for granted even though they are now in 15th place and 12 points above the relegation zone.

He said: “I don’t want any complacency to come in, It doesn’t matter if we’ve got 39 points: we’ve got 14 games to go. I want to get as high in the league as possible, Last year was a bit spooky - Peterborough went down with 54 points.

“Whether that’s going to be the benchmark this season...if anything I want to get as many points as possible and hopefully three at Yeovil.”

Gray thinks that the better the club fare, the more attractive they will be to potential summer signings.

“You’ve obviously got one eye on the future as in plannning for next season. The higher we can finish, the more appealing we are when we are negotiating. There will be lads out of contract who hopefully we’ll be in the matrket for, and it will be up to me to try to sell the club, and they’ll have one eye on the league table and where we’ve finished.

“The higher we are, it will also help me in resigning players who are already here.”

Thirteen players have contracts that run out this summer: Chris Kirkland, Reda and Jermaine Johnson, Anthony Gardner, Jose Semedo, David Prutton, Adam Davies, Matin Taylor, Rafa Floro, Miguel Llera, Glenn Loovens, Oguchi Onyewu and Caolan Lavery, whose agent has begun talks with the club.