Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray admits he will “have a decision to make” on Gary Madine’s immediate future, before the loan window shuts later this month.
Madine, who has resumed full training with the Owls following his release from Armley prision, made his Wednesday comeback by playing 45 minutes in an Under 21 game against Birmingham last week.
Madine followed that up with a goal in Wednesday’s Central League Cup win over Hartlepool on Wednesday, and Gray said: “I had a word with Gary after his comeback game, and he was disappointed with his performance.
“But I told him that he can’t rush things - he’s still getting back up to speed with things.
“The last thing we want to do is push him too hard, and then have him in the treatment room. What I want to do is get him back up to speed and back to full fitness, and then make a decision on whether to loan him out or put him in the first team squad.
“I have already had five or six teams contact me with a view to loaning Gary, and I will have a decision to make before the loan window closes.”
The Owls, who faced Wigan Athletic last night, return to Hillsborough on Saturday for the visit of Birmingham City.
Kieran Lee, who hasn’t featured in almost a month after suffering a hamstring strain, could return.
But Martin Taylor was forced off as Lee Bullen’s U21s hammered Hartlepool at Middlewood.
Taylor became the latest member of Gray’s squad to succumb to injury; goalkeeper Chris Kirkland missed Saturday’s defeat at Yeovil, while fellow defenders Anthony Gardner, Reda Johnson and Kamil Zayatte are also currently receiving treatment.
“I have never known a season quite like it,” Gray smiled.
“Normally your goalkeeper and back four are quite consistent over the course of a season, but that hasn’t been the case for us.
“That’s disappointing, of course, but it is what it is and we have to get on with it.”
Wednesday’s injury crisis has forced Gray to utilise the loan market, but he added: “Nothing beats having your own players.
“But needs must, with the amount of injuries we have suffered recently.
“We’ve suffered in key areas, like centre half and centre midfield; Kieran Lee and Jose Semedo were a big part of our success before we lost them.
“But Kieran’s made a good recovery from his tear, and he could be ready for Saturday.”
Wednesday’s U21 side narrowly missed out on qualifying for the League Cup semi-finals, despite beating Hartlepool 6-1.
Emmanuel Dieseruvwe scored a brace, with further goals from Madine, Rhys McCabe, Rafael Floro and Jack Stobbs - but Wednesday needed to win by six goals to progress.