Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday - Owls can ‘lay down a marker’ in the Championship

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY chief Garry Monk is challenging his side to ‘lay down a marker’ in this week’s East Midlands double-header at Derby County and Nottingham Forest.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk (Picture: PA)

Since taking over, Monk has made no apologies for primarily making his Owls side organised and hard to beat and has focused on building a firm foundation in his early months in charge at Hillsborough.

Now, at a time of the season which can separate true top-six contenders from the impersonators, Monk is urging his side to step it up and make a statement on the back of last weekend’s impressive come-from-behind win over Brentford.

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Monk, speaking ahead of tonight’s trip to Derby, said: “We have got two tough games coming up this week.

“We wanted to start the week off well and managed that with the comeback on Saturday.

“We have got a chance to really try and put a marker down this week.

We know it will not be easy. We are playing against two difficult sides.

“We need to try and keep that belief we are showing and momentum going.

“When our intensity levels and attitude is at its best, we are capable of winning and beating any team in this league.

“That is what we have tried to drill into the players and slowly but surely I think they have taken that more on board.”

Nine points better off than at the same juncture of last season after 20 Championship games, Wednesday can attack the hectic Christmas and New Year schedule with real intent in the view of Monk, even if he is not one for overly scrutinising league tables at this moment in time.

All he is interested in is amassing points ahead of the ‘business end of the season’ in March and April, when season’s fates are decided in his view.

“It is great to know we are in a healthy position. It helps our belief and confidence,” Monk added.

“But, if I am honest, I am not paying any serious attention to that. It does not mean anything at this point in the season.

“Come the last two months of the season, it is more important where you are in the league.

“Right now, it is good to know we are in a healthy position but there is so much football to be played and so much can happen.”

Last six games: Derby WLWLDL; Sheffield Wednesday LDLDWW.

Referee: S Martin (Staffs).

Last time: Derby 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1, March 9, 2019; Championship.