Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland bids to be number one

Chris Kirkland lost his place to Damian Martinez but has vast experience
Chris Kirkland lost his place to Damian Martinez but has vast experience

Chris Kirkland is pressing for a recall to the Owls team at Blackburn today.

Questions were asked about Damian Martinez’s part in the two goals that Bournemouth scored at Hillsborough.

Caretaker manager Stuart Gray has refused to openly criticise Martinez and pointed out that he made two good saves on Saturday.

The on-loan 21-year-old from Arsenal has also been in sound form in earlier games after being blooded by Dave Jones because the manager thought Kirkland had slipped below his best.

But Gray may also be weighing up the vast experience of the 32-year-old Kirkland as the relegation battle intensifies.

Reflecting on the Bournemouth game, Gray said: “He (Martinez) will be disappointed; any keeper will be disappointed when he concedes. But they’ve got to get through 10 outfield players first.

“There have been games where Emmi has pulled off some unbelievable saves. On Saturday he made two or three saves.”

On the issue of who plays today, Gray added: “That’s something for me to think about.”

Martinez - known as Emmi because his middle name is Emiliano - has started the last seven games, with Kirkland losing his 100 per cent league appearance record.

Gray has also confirmed that Chris Maguire is in his thoughts after his return from his loan spell at Coventry.

Gray was coach at Portsmouth when the striker scored three Championship goals for them and was on loan from Derby.

“He was outstanding at Portsmouth,” said Gray. “He scored goals. What Chris has to realise is that it’s a step up here to a big, big club.

“He has to get back to basics: holiding the ball, running the channels and getting in the box.

“I think Chris, with me being in charge, will possible this is as a second chance.

“These strikers are paid to score goals; Connor Wickham has been scoring. Chris is paid to score, so is Atdhe Nuhiu. When they get the opportunity, they have to make sure they do that.”

With the club short of strikers, Gray said that Caolan Lavery cannot be recalled from his loan at Plymouth until it ends on January 1.

He admitted that Maguire and Lavery may not have been allowed to go on loan if the Owls had known that they would hit severe injury problems; they also did not expect Matty Fryatt to be recalled by Hull.