SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Hope lives on for Owls

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OWLS boss Dave Jones insists that there is a mood of optimism at Hillsborough.

The defeat away to title-chasing Middlesbrough was Wednesday’s ninth in their last 13 Championship games.

But once again Jones saw positives, and he says: “There’s a lot of optimism about the place, still a feelgood factor around, and where there’s optimism there’s hope.

“As long as we keep going and remain brave then we’ll be ok. There are a lot of quality quality players there. It’s just that we’re in a division that’s unforgiving if you make a mistake.

“We’d have got away with a lot of things last year; this year we don’t get away with it as much, but that’s the quality that’s at this level.

“We also have to take our chances - we are creating a lot - and we have to keep the back door shut, as a team.”

Gary Madine, who scored on his return to the side at Middlesbrough, has said on Twitter: “Great effort but bad result. The boys are gutted. We’ll try to put it right at Forest.”

The Owls play at the City Ground on Saturday.

Jones criticised Miguel Llera - though without naming him - for a costly mistake at Boro but has no complaints about any of his players’ effort.

“I can’t fault them for the effort, commitment and desire. Unfortunately, they will make mistakes, and at the moment those mistakes are costing them.

“Well done to Tony Mowbray’s side. We gave them a fright but we should have done better. That’s where I get frustrated; maybe I shouldn’t, because of where they have come from and what they have done.”

He pointed out that eight of the players who were on the pitch at some stage on Friday were playing in League One last season.

“I just want better from them, and I think it’s in them,” he added. “I have to drag it out of them, and it isn’t going to come out easily.”

Sunderland’s England Under 21 striker Connor Wickham has been linked with the club.