Sheffield Wednesday: Owls’ Connor blow

Have your say

Wednesday will be without Connor Wickham and Roger Johnson for the FA Cup tie at Macclesfield on Saturday - a game tagged by Stuart Gray as potentially the hardest of the season.

But the caretaker manager regards it as an opportunity for two other players rather than a double blow as the Owls bid to build on their impressive win against Blackpool.

Connor Wickham scores against Blackpool

Connor Wickham scores against Blackpool

Sunderland have refused permission for Wickham to play because they do no want him cup-tied.

Johnson’s loan from Wolves ran out after yesterday’s game.

“We’re negotiating for Roger to come back but I don’t think it will get done before the cup game,” said Gray.

“I don’t think Wolves want him back. Roger is desperate to stay here. It’s a case of us speaking to Wolves and thrashing out a deal.”

Sunderland can still recall Wickham at 24 hours’ notice but his loan has been extended to January 28 and they did not want him back early during his initial loan spell.

Gray, after the third win of his reign, now looks favourite to be named as full-time manager next week.

He said: “I’m not in control of that. All I can control is getting the team ready. I’ve said to the players Saturday’s game will probably be the hardest of the season.

“We’ll be ready physically and tactically, But you have to be ready mentally as well when you’re going to a non-league ground and you’re a Championship club.

“We’ve got two players out, there will be two getting an opportunity, and we want to get into the next round of the cup.”

Gray was disappointed with the first half yesterday but delighted with the second half, which brought goals for Chris Maguire and Wickham - the latter’s seventh for the club this season.

“In the second half we moved the ball and created chance after chance,” he said. “Credit Chris Kirkland and the back four as well for us keeping a clean sheet.

“Collectively it was a great team performance. We could have had more goals.”