Wednesday boss wary of targets who got away

Former Owls target Simon Cox.

Former Owls target Simon Cox.

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Stuart Gray is hoping two strikers who slipped through his fingers will not return to halt Sheffield Wednesday’s fine start to their Championship campaign tomorrow.

Reading strike duo Simon Cox and Glenn Murray were both wanted by the Owls head coach, but the deals failed to materialise.

Gray is still in the hunt for a striker, despite Wednesday sitting eighth in the Championship after picking up four points from back-to-back away games at Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City.

He had hoped to bring Cox to Hillsborough as part of the transfer which saw winger Michail Antonio go to Nottingham Forest last month.

But the striker opted for Reading instead, due to wanting to move closer to his family, and has netted four times for the Royals since.

“I still think we need a forward, I am still trying to get one in,” said Gray. “I can put Chris Maguire, Hallam Hope or Roysten Drenthe down the middle but I just need a proper striker.

“One that can compete with Atdhe (Nuhiu), Gary Madine and Stevie May.

“I am just relying on the clubs we are dealing with to give us the green light. Whether that’s tomorrow, next Monday or a week’s time.

“We have identified the ones we want to bring in, it’s just a case of whether the clubs are willing to let them go.”

Wednesday missed out on Cox, but did draft in Stevie May – who scored his second goal in Owls colours in the 2-0 midweek win at Birmingham – and Gray has warned his defence they need to be on their guard tomorrow against a Berkshire team on a four-match winning streak.

The Owls have collected six clean sheets in nine outings this season and Cox and Murray will test that new-found defensive resolve, believes Gray.

“Reading have Simon Cox up front, the boy who we tried to bring here, who has scored a few goals,” he said.

“We tried to get him in the deal which took Antonio to Forest, but it wasn’t to be as he wanted to be further south towards where his family was.

“But Simon is a goalscorer, shame he’s not at Sheffield Wednesday. We missed out on Simon but got Stevie May instead. It would have been nice to have got both in the building.

“You have to keep Simon quiet, keep him out of the box, because that’s where he comes alive, his reading of situations is good.

“I remember he scored for Forest against us last year, so I will be reminding my back four to try and keep him quiet.

“They have Murray, from Crystal Palace, who we tried to get in but he went to Reading. Palace didn’t want to let him out, this was last season, when we put the call in.

“We had two great wins against them last season. We will have a bumper crowd on Saturday and we have to entertain them,” added Gray, with the Owls offering reduced price tickets at £10 adults, £5 concessions for tomorrow.

“We haven’t won at home in the league and hopefully it will be nice to get 30,000 in on Saturday and give them something to cheer about.”

In fact, you have to go back to March 25 for the last time Wednesday won at Hillsborough in the Championship.

Performances have not been reflected in results this season, with Millwall snatching a stoppage-time equaliser while Wednesday impressed against Derby County (0-0) and Nottingham Forest (losing 1-0).

“Nigel (Adkins, Reading manager) will be coming here with his team feeling very confident, but we don’t fear anybody,” warned Gray.

“We have had six clean sheets, I am a little bit disappointed we haven’t scored as many goals for the chances created but, hopefully, one team will get a good beating.

“We are playing well, creating chances, so hopefully that’s against Reading.

“I have confidence because I trust my players. It’s not difficult to pick a team at the moment because the lads are performing.

“If somebody had said to me at the start of the season you were playing Bolton and Birmingham away, would you take four points out of six, I would have said yes. But being involved in those games, being greedy, I wanted the six points.

“Graham Taylor once said if you create 20 chances you will score two goals. We created 25 chances against Bolton and didn’t score. I would imagine against Birmingham we didn’t even get to double figures and we scored two goals.

“I think Graham is right, it will balance itself out over the season.”

One striker who will not be joining Wednesday is Sunderland’s Danny Graham, who was linked with Hillsborough earlier this week.

“I have got that type of player at the club, Atdhe Nuhiu and Gary Madine,” stressed Gray. “I think it’s just an agent being a bit naughty.”

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