STUART GRAY is calling on his Sheffield Wednesday players to stand up and be counted at raucous Rotherham today – as he seeks to extend his impressive record against Yorkshire rivals at the Owls’ helm.
All told, since taking over initially as caretaker from Dave Jones in December, 2013, Gray has presided over just one defeat in 10 matches against White Rose opponents, winning six.
It is a record he is desperate to improve against the Millers, who have not beaten the Owls in the league in Rotherham since Dick Habbin’s goal at Millmoor in a 1-0 win in March, 1976.
More especially also since Gray bears the scars after being part of the coaching staff in the dug-out when the Owls were dumped out of the Capital One Cup by the then lower-division Millers in August, 2013.
Gray said: “If you turn up there and aren’t ‘at it’, you will get beaten – and we weren’t that night.
“They are a strong, physical side who play to their strengths and one thing we do know is that we have got to stand up and be counted.
“I have played in lots of derbies, a Villa/Birmingham derby and a south coast derby and with any derby, you just want the bragging rights.
“It’s one where the fans turn and look at fixtures over the season and think: ‘We must win that game.’ And we must on Saturday.
“I don’t want my players to be nervous, but relax and enjoy the occasion and the most important thing is putting the application in and winning our one v one battles.”
Alongside his call for his players to show character, Gray has also issued a directive to his misfiring strikers, namely to sharpen up, with Atdhe Nuhiu and Stevie May having netted just four Championship goals between them in 2015.
Gray said: “Forwards are always judged on goals. We are creating chances for them and, unfortunately, they are not going in for Attey or Stevie May.
“But you can’t feel sorry for yourself, you have just got to keep plugging away and putting the hours in on the training ground and keep practicing.
“The most important thing is your next chance will come.
“The disappointing thing is you are not guaranteed to score a goal, but should be guaranteed to hit the target.
“Out of 20 goal attempts the other night (at Wolves), the goalkeeper had to work three times, which isn’t good enough or acceptable.”