Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland admires pace aces

Jeremy Helan flies past Birmingham right back Paul Caddis
Jeremy Helan flies past Birmingham right back Paul Caddis

KEEPER Chris Kirkland is backing the Owls forwards to prove that the goalscoring blank at Birmingham was more of an occasional off-night that the symptom of a problem to cause concern.

Wednesday had scored seven times in the three games that preceded the 0-0 draw at St, Andrew’s.

Kirkland points to a squad that includes Leroy Lita, Connor Wickham, Michail Antonio, Jermaine Johnson and Gary Madine, and he told The Star: “With the players we’ve got, we have a lot of attacking threat, a lot of pace.

“With the situations that we had against Birmingham, we were a bit disappointed only to draw. But on another day the ball will be in the back of the net.

“Sometimes it happens - the ball doesn’t go in the back of the net. When it’s like that, the important thing is not to lose, and we managed that.”

Wednesday have also kept six clean sheets in the last 11 league games.

Unlike one of his predecessors, Lee Grant, Kirkland does not set himself a target of clean sheets for the season.

Nor will he take all the credit, preferring to spotlight the improved defending by the team, as a unit.

“ As long as the team is doing well, that’s the most important. It’s not about individuals, never has been. Whoever plays has to do the job, or somebody will take their place.”

“We’re on a good run; we want to keep it going. It’s really tight in the table, We don’t want to be in the bottom three come May 4.”

Wednesday and Palace were at opposite ends of the table before they met at Selhurst Park on September 1, in the fourth match of the season: the Owls were second, the Eagles bottom without a win.

That day’s 2-1 defeat sparked a slump for Wednesday, but in recent months they have tightened up defensively, and begun to score more goals.

Kirkland reflects: “It’s a contrast to how we were in 15 games where we were too easy to beat. Now, we’re working hard on the training ground with Stu (Stuart Gray), Wilko (Paul Wilkinson) and the gaffer. We have to keep it going.

“We’ve got 14 games left and every one is going to be vital.”

The memory of the Selhurst Park game remains clear for the keeper: “We went there in good form. They were bottom. We got it back to 1-1 and thought we were going to win.” But a second goal by Glenn Murray clinched victory for the Eagles.