OWLS stars Jay Bothroyd and Rhys McCabe have hit back after being subjected to online abuse following Sheffield Wednesday’s defeat to Blackpool on Tuesday.
Striker Bothroyd and midfielder McCabe, making his first Owls start in a month after injury, were singled out for criticism on social networking site Twitter, after goals from Thomas Ince and Ludovic Sylvestre sealed a 2-0 victory for the managerless Tangerines at Hillsborough.
The result means Wednesday remain just three points above the Championship relegation places ahead of tomorrow evening’s trip to Middlesbrough, and McCabe in particular was targeted with a number of tweets from frustrated fans criticising his work-rate and commitment.
“It’s nice to see fans showing loyal support to us players, by tweeting things such as this and booing etc,” 20-year-old McCabe replied via his account.
“Do you think we mean to play badly? Just asking.”
The Scot, who arrived at Wednesday on a free transfer from crisis club Rangers, later thanked Owls supporters for their supportive messages. Owls boss Dave Jones has previously described Twitter as the ‘scourge of modern football’ after Bothroyd was censured earlier this season after using the social network site to hit back at supporters who had criticised him, and Reda Johnson used his account to reveal an injury would keep him sidelined for weeks.
A spokesperson for Sheffield Wednesday refused to comment on the latest online storm.
“The club’s Twitter policy remains the same and we will not be commenting further,” the spokesperson said.
“While we cannot discuss individual cases, all club employees, including players, are encouraged to use social media networks in a professional and responsible manner.”
Bothroyd, who is expected to keep his place in Jones’ starting line up at the Riverside Stadium, sees the tough trip to second-placed Middlesbrough as a perfect opportunity to answer the team’s critics.
“Against Blackpool, we didn’t keep the ball well enough and we didn’t have a good end product. It was a very flat game,” the on-loan Queens Park Rangers man said. “Our last four or five games were totally different, and we need to get back to those performances. What better chance than a game on Friday? There’s no time to dwell.
“We need more composure in the final third, but there’s another game on Friday and a big performance is needed.
“I’m sure we will turn it back around again - positive thinking is key.”
Bothroyd, a former England international, is a keen user of Twitter and has over 88,000 followers. “I’m not really bothered - people are entitled to their opinions, just like I am,” he said, when asked about the online abuse he receives.
“We’re on Twitter so I guess we’re a target when things aren’t going our way, but a footballer goes on to the pitch not to lose or to play rubbish, but to play their best.
“Some weeks they’re carrying little injuries or aren’t having the best of times confidence-wise, and when people jump on their backs it’s not ideal.
“I had a little bite at one point and used some bad language, which I shouldn’t have done, but I was hurt by remarks that I don’t care about the shirt.
“I appreciate that the fans pay their money to watch us and are entitled to their opinion, but it doesn’t help.”
Jones revealed that Paul Corry, who missed the Blackpool match with an ankle injury, should be fit for Middlesbrough.
Meanwhile, on-loan midfielder Ross Barkley has committed his long-term future to his parent club, Everton.
“I see my future in the long term with Everton but right now, I am enjoying my football and the experience I am getting with Sheffield Wednesday,” Barkley, Wednesday’s player of the month for October, told Everton’s official website.
“I have really enjoyed my time here so far. I feel as if I have made a lot of progress and that is the most important thing.”