Sheffield Wednesday forward Chris Maguire turns 26 today - and admits the best birthday present he could possibly have is three points against Bolton Wanderers.
Stuart Gray’s men will be seeking a fourth consecutive Championship victory when they welcome Wanderers to Hillsborough tomorrow.
“It would be a great birthday present if we could beat Bolton,” he admitted. “We’ve got Bolton and Birmingham coming up at home and, no disrespect to either of them, but we have been the better team this season.
“We have played them both and beat Birmingham away and we should have won at Bolton but we couldn’t get a goal.
“Our confidence is high and they are coming to our place. Birmingham are on a good run themselves at the moment but we know with the confidence we have got that if we turn up and play to our strengths, then I’m sure we can get six points.”
Owls have moved up to ninth in the table after recording five wins from their last seven league outings and Maguire is urging the team to push on.
“The league table doesn’t lie; we are up there not because we have been lucky,” he insisted. “We are near the play-offs on merit rather than over-achieving.
“We are not going to start shouting about where we might finish. We’ve got to go about our business quietly and properly and see what happens at the end of the season.
“We know we are not a million miles away and you compare that to other teams who have big budgets and spent big money who are not doing so well. I think most people thought the teams who came down from the Premier League would run away with the league but that has not been the case.
“We’ve just got to keep this run that we are on going. There is nobody to fear in the Championship.”
It is an important couple of months for Maguire. His Wednesday deal expires in the summer.
“There have no contract talks yet,” he said. “I am just concentrating on getting my form right. It is a crucial time in people’s careers and there are a lot of boys here who are up at the end of the season.
“I’m sure everybody will be going out with a point to prove and be wanting to stay and I’m no different.
“Since Stuart [Gray] has taken over, I have loved my time at the club. I am playing week in week out which is all you want as a footballer. I am happy here so we will see what happens.”
Buoyed by scoring his fourth goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 triumph at Nottingham Forest, Maguire is looking to find the back of the net on a more consistent basis. His aim is to finish as the club’s top-scorer.
Maguire’s bid to leapfrog Atdhe Nuhiu and Stevie May in the goal-scoring charts will be affected if he picks up another yellow card between now and the second weekend of April. Should he collect one more caution, he will trigger an automatic two-match suspension for collecting 10 bookings.
“If you look at the bookings I’ve had over the course of the season, I would say three of them have been definite bookings and the rest have been harsh,” he said. “Some of my bookings have been ridiculous.
“In the Huddersfield game, I was tripped in the box and we should have had a stonewall penalty but I got booked for diving. Referees do sometimes get decisions wrong but that yellow card goes on my record so I’m left on a tightrope.”
The goalless draw at Huddersfield was not the first time Maguire has been accused of simulation. Nearly a year ago, Maguire was booked and denied a spot-kick at Burnley after going down under a challenge by Jason Shackell.
“I’ve seen a few people try to say I’ve got a reputation for diving and I don’t know where they’ve got that from because if you look back on the decisions that have gone against me, I’ve not dived once,” he said. “That’s a bit of a myth.
“It is frustrating because I don’t go out to cheat a team or officials. You try and be as honest as you can. I go out and if I can stay on my feet, I will do.”