Sheffield Wednesday: Gray’s challenge to players

Chris Maguire celebrates his goal against Leeds
Chris Maguire celebrates his goal against Leeds

Stuart Gray is challenging his players to try to repeat the standards they showed in thrashing Leeds when they face Macclesfield tonight.

The Owls caretaker boss will show respect to the Conference outfit by fielding his strongest possible outfield line-up in the FA Cup third-round replay as he targets a place in the last 16 at least.

Forward Chris Maguire says that the team are on a high after the 6-0 result against Leeds and he is confident of progress into a fourth-round, last-32 tie at Rochdale.

Gray said: “My challenge to the players is to achieve the same standards and hopefully they’ll get to those standards.”

Although not predicting another six-goal victory, he does want more of the football and finishing that destroyed Leeds.

“The motivation is Rochdale away in the next round, and you want to get as far as you can,” he said.

“At the end of your career as a footballer you want to look back and think ‘I did quite well in the FA Cup, I got to this level, or semi finals, quarter-finals, whatever’; that’s the challenge, and the draw can be kind; it can be one of the easiest cups to get to, the draw has been reasonably kind.

“The winners of our replay go to Rochdale, a difficult place to go, but you’ll be having one eye on the fifth round.

“The players were definitely up for it on Saturday; they’ve got to do it themselves and I’ve got to get them up for it again.

“Again, we’ll be physically and tactically ready; though physically they might be a bit tired (after Saturday) but I’ll be asking players to go again.

“Macclesfield didn’t play on Saturday so they’ve had a bit of rest. But it’s our patch, and we’ve got eight goals in the last two home games, so we’ll be on the front foot.

“But you can’t take anything for granted.”

Maguire, one of the scorers last Saturday, said: “After that result we’re confident we can win. Hopefully we can, then we’re looking to the Rochdale game; it’s another tricky tie, with them doing well against Leeds (2-0 in the third round), but if we win that then it’s a good cup run that you want.

“If we go out with the attitude we’ve shown in recent weeks, and play like we have been doing, then no disrespect to Macclesfield, I think we’ll win.

“They will be up for it. It will be their cup final again. After the game on Saturday, it’s great that another game has come around so quickly, because everybody’s still on a high, and I’m sure everyone will take that into this game.”

Unconcerned if the Silkmen adopt a defensive policy, he added: “They might try and sit in. But the boys are confident, We’re going into this game on a high, a few days after a big win, so I’m sure we’ll be relishing it.”

Connor Wickham and Caolan Lavery are ineligible - Wickham because Sunderland do not want him Cup-tied, Lavery because to play in a replay a player has to have been available for the initial tie: Lavery was registered with Plymouth, on loan, at the time Wednesday drew 1-1 at the Moss Rose.