Fresh from becoming the first Sheffield Wednesday player to win a full Scotland cap since Jim McCalliog in October 1968, Stevie May has been challenged to end his recent goal drought.
You have to go back to September 20 for the last time the 22-year-old found the back of the net and the Owls won a competitive match.
But despite his lean spell in front of goal, May has been included in last couple of international squads and the former St Johnstone player’s hard work paid off on Tuesday. In the cauldron-like atmosphere at Celtic Park, May certainly did not look out of place in Scotland’s friendly against England.
May, a second half substitute, touched the ball eight times and did not misplace a pass as England cruised to a 3-1 victory.
Stuart Gray, the Owls head coach, said May trained with the rest of his squad at Hillsborough yesterday and hopes the cap will drive him on to bigger and better things.
“It was a huge moment for Stevie and full credit to him,” he said. “I was watching the game on TV hoping he would get on. I would have liked him to have scored and Scotland to have lost the game 3-2!
“It’s a fantastic boost for him. He is buzzing and raring to go. He has comeback full of confidence and hopefully that will spur him on.
“It’s not a bad first cap to get against England. Hopefully he can play on Saturday and show the reasons why Gordon Strachan picked him for international duty.”
After representing his country for the first time at senior level, May tweeted: “Pity about the result, still unbelievable feeling to make my debut for my country.”
May has fired three goals in 17 appearances since moving south of the border.
“I think Stevie will hold his hands up and admit he’s had several opportunities to kill games off,” said Gray. “He hasn’t missed chances deliberately.
“The more times we can get him in scoring positions and create chances, the more goals he will get. We need to provide more for Stevie and the other strikers.”
To solve Wednesday’s lack of creativity, Gray swooped to sign Lewis McGugan on Wednesday. The midfielder has arrived on loan from Watford until January 1 and is in line to make his Owls debut at Huddersfield Town tomorrow.
Gray said: “We have been struggling to score goals and when you look at Lewis’s CV, he’s got 40 odd goals in his career so he’s a goal-scoring midfield player. He creates chances and that’s something we have been missing. We have not been scoring goals from midfield or been creative enough and hopefully he can create for the likes of Stevie May, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Atdhe Nuhiu.”
Wednesday tried to sign McGugan before their trip to Charlton Athletic at the start of the month but Watfor ultimately decided against allowing him to leave on a temporary basis.
“I’ve followed Lewis’s career since he was a boy at Forest; he just scores goals on a regular basis,” said Gray. “He picked out two or three passes in training and scored a couple of goals. He’s what we needed really and it’s given everybody a lift.
“We haven’t scored enough goals and Lewis won’t shirk responsibility. If we drown him with the ball, we know he can hurt the opposition.
“We have given him the opportunity to come and play regular first-team football. He wants to grab it and impress. He is looking forward to putting on a Wednesday shirt and enjoying his football.”
Speaking to the press corps yesterday, Gray refused to rule out the possibility of extending McGugan’s loan deal but stressed: “We are grateful Watford have agreed to let him out and he’s still their player.”