Owls striker Connor Wickham has today gone back to Sunderland after the Black Cats exercised their 24-hour recall clause in the loan deal.
The England Under-21 international, who has notched eight goals in 11 starts for Sheffield Wednesday this season, was set to feature in the Owls Championship clash at Millwall tomorrow night before returning to his parent club.
But Sunderland, short on attacking options, have decided to cut short Wickham’s temporary stint and the talented forward may get a run-out in the Black Cats meeting with Stoke City on Wednesday.
New Owls head coach Stuart Gray, speaking at his pre-match press briefing this morning, was confident they would be able to hang on to Wickham.
He said: “I have spoken to Gus Poyet at Sunderland and he’s delighted that Connor is playing. We are trying to get something thrashed out.
“It would be a great lift for everybody if he stays. Connor has come in and shown what he can do.
“I am very confident it will be extended.”
Bu Gray, handed a two-and-a-half-year deal by Wednesday chairman Milan Mandaric after last weekend’s FA Cup triumph at Rochdale, stressed: “It is not just about Connor. I think all of the players deserve credit. We do win games of football without Connor as we showed last Saturday.”
Wednesday were last night paired with Charlton Athletic in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The tie will take place at Hillsborough next month on the weekend of February 15-16. Gray is delighted with the draw after the team demonstrated their battling qualities at Spotland.
“The players showed a lot of character at Rochdale,” said Gray, who refused to be drawn on speculation linking Wednesday with strikers Sammy Ameobi, Luciano Becchio and Guly do Prado. “You couldn’t fault their effort or commitment from start to finish. We got fantastic support as well.
“I spoke to the forgeign players before the game about the importance of the cup, not only to the fans, but to Britain itself and to me. It is every schoolboys dream to play in an FA Cup final.
“We are on a run. We’ve got a good draw. We couldn’t have asked for a better one than to be at home.
“Charlton had a great result at Huddersfield so we will give them plenty of respect. But it is nice to be at home in front of our own fans. I imagine it will be a good turn out.
“Our goal is to get through to the next round.”
The Owls will be without the services of Joe Mattock, Lewis Buxton and Michail Antonio in the capital tomorrow. Mattock will serve an automatic one-match ban for his red card against Dale. Wednesday sent Buxton for a scan on his groin problem last week but are still waiting for the results to comeback. Antonio continues to receive treatment for his knee ligament injury.
Gray also said Kamil Zayatte and Martin Taylor would figure in this afternoon’s development clash at Barnsley.