SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Old pals act sparks Pride Park rivalry for Chris and Craig

Derby return: Chris Maguire faces friend and former team-mate Craig Bryson.         Picture: Steve Ellis
Derby return: Chris Maguire faces friend and former team-mate Craig Bryson. Picture: Steve Ellis

OWLS striker Chris Maguire and Derby midfielder Craig Bryson are pals with something in common.

But they beg to differ about the outcome of tomorrow’s clash between their respective clubs.

There has been some friendly banter between the two in the build-up to the Wednesday game.

“I still speak to Craig,” says Maguire. “He thinks they’ve got to win; I see it differently; I think we’ll win.”

The duo are Scots who arrived at Pride Park at the same time, Maguire from Aberdeen, Bryson from Kilmarnock.

But they had contrasting fortunes, one getting only a handful of opportunities in Nigel Clough’s team and the other becoming a regular.

It could hardly be a spicier first game of the season for Maguire, who after his £200,000 summer move to Hillsborough no doubt will be hoping to show that Derby’s loss is Wednesday’s gain.

But the striker has always stressed that he has no hard feelings about the Rams: “It’s a great club and the fans were brilliant; when I wasn’t playing they were asking me why and what was going on. I couldn’t answer that question.

“It will be good to see what kind of reception I get from the fans. Some might have taken it the wrong way when I said I was glad to leave. But it wasn’t about the club.”

The 23-year-old has left no-one in any doubt that he feels he simply did not get enough opportunities under Clough.

Relishing his return, he says: “It’s the first game of the season; it’s exciting, more so when you’re going back to your old club.

“Hopefuly it’s a chance for me to play and help Sheffield Wednesday get a result.”

The signs leading up to the start of the season were that he would be a starter on Saturday.

But he knows he cannot take it for granted.

He and strike partner Gary Madine went off early in Monday’s Capital One Cup 4-2 win at Oldham.

Maguire had sore ribs, Madine a knee problem, but manager Dave Jones was unhappy with the team’s first-half performance and said he would have made changes anyway.

Chris O’Grady went on as a sub, played well and scored two goals.

“The manager summed it up, really,” says the striker. “Oldham were up for it from the first whistle. We have to be up for it more than the other team. We ended up getting a bit of a blast from him at half time. It’s the first time I’ve seen that from him. He’s a good manager, and him having a go lifted everybody. He hoped he didn’t have to do it again.

“It just showed that he wants to win every game, as we do; that wasn’t pre-season any more. That’s when the business started.”

Maguire has been niggled a little by the rib problem over the last few weeks but hopes it has now calmed down.

“The manager knows I was carrying a knock and hopefully he’ll take that into account,” he says, hoping to keep his place.

“Even if I’m not starting I hope to be involved in some way. I’m pleased that I’ve made a fresh start here and I hope to score a few goals and get the opportunity that I didn’t seem to get at Derby.

“They’re quite a young team wth players who haven’t a lot of experience of this league. I’m sure they’ll be up for it, as much as we are. Hopefully we will come away with the points: I feel that if we play as well as we can, we’ll do that.”

Wednesday’s ex-Derby keeper Stephen Bywater looks set to be on the bench.