Sheffield Wednesday are scouring the Premier League for a striker – and are refusing to give up the chase for Hull City’s Matty Fryatt.
The Tigers forward enjoyed a successful loan spell at Hillsborough earlier in the season, but was recalled by Hull manager Steve Bruce last month.
The 27-year-old scored four times in nine appearances for the Owls and his Tigers career looked to be over with his contract due to expire in the summer.
But Bruce has thrown Fryatt a lifeline in the Premier League by naming him as a substitute in three recent games and seeing him score in the 6-0 win over Fulham.
While Owls caretaker-manager Stuart Gray accepts he may not be able to sign Fryatt immediately, the Championship side are still hoping they can take the former Walsall and Leicester City striker back to Hillsborough.
Ahead of today’s FA Cup third-round trip to non-league Macclesfield Town, Gray was left to rue Fryatt’s situation.
“We brought in Matty, got him match-fit and he did do well and started scoring goals,” said Gray.
“Suddenly, we had done Hull City a favour, we hadn’t done ourselves a favour.
“He has gone back to Hull, got himself on the bench and scored. He’s in Steve Bruce’s thoughts, if not his starting XI his squad.
“So Matty is one we will keep chipping away at. He’s on our radar, but I don’t think it will happen at this moment in time.
“We were grateful that Hull City allowed us to have Matty, but disappointed that they called him back, but he is their player.
“He just shows how the loan system can work. He was in the wilderness at Hull, not getting 90 minutes or the intensity of first-team football.
“Steve Bruce has now got him on the bench – he was getting nowhere near the bench before, and he has come on and scored in the Premier League. That’s how it works.
“If I ring up Steve today and ask about Matty Fryatt, he’s going to turn around and say ‘no chance, he’s in my thoughts’.
“We all want that striker who can get us 20 goals. We had 21 chances against Charlton and only converted one of them. We have to be scoring more goals.”
Fryatt linked up well with fellow loan striker Connor Wickham at Hillsborough and the latter has seven goals in nine games since switching from Sunderland. The duo impressed in the 5-2 demolition of Reading in November and Gray would love to hitch them together again.
“There’s no hiding the fact we are looking at forwards, but I am sure I am not the only manager looking at them,” said Gray.
“We are looking at Premier League forwards who aren’t getting in the team, sat on the bench, or not even being a substitute.”
Other possible contenders could include Sheffield-born Billy Sharp, who has just returned to Southampton after a loan spell at Reading, while another former Owls loanee, Leroy Lita, could be available after his short-term deal at Brighton expired on New Year’s Day and he returned to Swansea.
As for Gray’s long-term future, an unbeaten festive run has seen Wednesday climb out of the Championship relegation zone.
Chairman Milan Mandaric is expected to hand Gray the manager’s job full-time until the end of the season if the Owls win today.
Mandaric was at the club’s Middlewood Road training ground on Thursday, but Gray’s focus was on today’s tricky trip to a sold-out Moss Rose.
“He (Mandaric) is pleased with the Blackpool result and that we are out of the bottom three,” said Gray. “But we have got to build on it, keep moving, and our next goal is to get through the next round of the FA Cup before we play Leeds United next Saturday.”