Sheffield Wednesday: All eyes on rival strikers

Chris O'Grady
Chris O'Grady

Tomorrow’s Oakwell derby could almost be described as a tale of two strikers.

Certainly Wednesday fans will be focused on how Matty Fryatt and Chris O’Grady fare.

It seems fair to say that so far they have liked what they have seen from Fryatt.

Not knowing at the time that there was a fitness issue (he had been affected by illness), some of them were angry when he was taken off at Bolton last week after forming a dangerous trio, with Michail Antonio and Jeremy Helan.

O’Grady’s exit to Barnsley on loan last season and sale for around £300,000 in the summer has been the subject of much debate, considering that he has made an impact at Oakwell and scored seven goals this season, while Wednesday for the last nine months have looked in other directions in attempts to strengthen their attack.

But Dave Jones has no regrets about letting him go: he was out of the Owls team at the time of his departure on loan to Barnsley.

It is understood that the Reds were paying all of his wages, and this helped greatly towards the cost of the Owls bringing in Danny Pugh, Connor Wickham and Leroy Lita around the same time, with their respective clubs making contributions to their salaries.

Jones takes the view that sometimes it is necessary for a player to move on and sometimes it boosts his career: there are examples throughout the league.

Says the Owls boss: “I’m sure Chris will want to do well, whether he’s playing against us or anybody else - I’m hoping my players will be the same.

“We had no problem with Chris when he was here. He wanted to play regular football. Sometimes a move is better for a player if he’s stagnating at a club.

“Some players here didn’t want to go out on loan. At least he did that, and he got himself a move out of it, so well done to him.

“He wasn’t scoring for us. Sometimes moving a player out is of benefit to him. Every player you let go, some people will ask why.

“There are no regrets; I’m sure Chris has no regrets. People always think that because you’re letting someone go, there’s animosity - there wasn’t any. He decided that was the best place for him. He went to Barnsley and is doing well. He’s scored some goals.

“He had a bit a of luck on Saturday (a deflected goal against Middlesbrough) - that’s the bit of luck you sometimes need as a striker.

“He might just have found a club that suits him - like a lot of players around the country.”

Wednesday will look to Fryatt to spearhead their attack tomorrow - especially if Jones adopts the usual away system of 4-5-1, which would mean a midfield player, possibly Liam Palmer, replacing the suspended Jose Semedo unless there is a signing.

Jones disagrees with the FA’s decision to reject an appeal against Semedo’s sending-off at Bolton:

“We never get to find out who is on the panel.

“The rule says you have to be out of control (to be sent off); he was in control. Has he got a chance of winning the ball? He wins the ball. Is there a follow-through? No. Is he going at pace? No.”

But Jones did receive some vindication of his view that Jermaine Johnson’s ‘offside’ goal should have stood, and Bolton’s Robert Hall should have been sent off before Semedo for a tackle on Lewis Buxton: “We sent a report to the FA and referees. It comes back and they tell you they have made a mistake - it was a goal; and two tackles beforehand maybe it should be red.”

He fansaid he is trying to be constructive and has had a welcome dialogue with Premier League and Football League referee officialdom.

While aggrieved at seeing a winning goal disallowed, Jones feels that his team must simply persevere as they seek that first victory of the season.

To achieve it, they must beat a loan keeper that he tried to sign - Stoke City’s Jack Butland,

“We missed out on him; we were close, just not close enough,” admits Jones, who went on to borrow Damian Martinez from Arsenal.

“We were disappointed to have that goal chalked off last week. But the more you keep doing the right things, the more chance the win will come.

“It’s repetition: you tell the centre forward ‘keep making the run; the time you don’t, the ball will go there.’

“You have to stay focused. We’re just looking forward to the game. The players have trained hard all week. We have one more session left and we’ll be ready for a big derby.

“We know it’s going to be tense, with a lot of noise; within that, we have to play our football.”