Sheffield Wednesday: Chris back but Boro lose Given

Chris Kirkland makes a stop at Millwall - he has been on form
Chris Kirkland makes a stop at Millwall - he has been on form

Stuart Gray hardly has a decision to make when he picks his goalkeeper for tomorrow’s game against Middlesbrough.

Chris Kirkland maintained his form at Huddersfield last week - including one important save - and has only been rested for FA Cup ties.

So he is set to come back in for Cup keeper Damian Martinez. But Boro boss Aitor Karanka has lost the man who kept 10 clean sheets in 16 games: Shay Given, who has gone back to Aston Villa at the end of a three-month loan.

Karanka says that whichever keeper has impressed him most in training will play at Hillsborough.

He has three main contenders from which to choose: Jason Steele, Dimi Konstantopoulos and Tomas Mejias, plus Jayson Leutwiler and Connor Ripley.

Steele says: “There’s five of us and every one of us will think we should be playing on Saturday.

“Whoever the manager picks will do a good job for him, no doubt. We are all good lads and we get along really well. We all help each other out, if we see something we think we can help with. It’s good competition and something we haven’t had for a while.”

Steele has been training for two and a half weeks after an ankle operation, which followed his sending-off after 43 minutes of Karanka’s first game in charge, against Leeds.

The Spaniard’s choice tomorrow will have a hard act to follow: Given is said to have been outstanding during his loan stay. Steele said: “Shay was one of my boyhood idols. He was the top dog in my opinion.

“It’s maybe surprised some people how good he is now. He’s 37 and he still looks brilliant to me and it shows that when you are that experienced you can perform at any level.”

While Boro have not been conceding many goals, they have also failed to score or win in their last six games: four 0-0 draws, and 2-0 and 1-0 defeats against Leicester and Watford respectively.

Their last win was 1-0 against Charlton on January 18.

On-loan midfield player Nathaniel Chalobah - a Chelsea colleague of Owls on-loan midfielder Sam Hutchinson - said:

“The goals will come. We all believe that.

“We are working hard in games and playing well at times but the goals haven’t come for us and that is very frustrating.

“I can see us scoring a lot of goals against someone soon. I know that’s a bit of a cliche but I believe it. Once we get a goal, they’ll flow.”.