Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday - Garry Monk searching for consistency

Tipsters will give Sheffield Wednesday a wide berth when it comes to predicting how the Owls will fare at Brentford today.
Owls youngster Alex Hunt gets away from Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez. Pic Steve EllisOwls youngster Alex Hunt gets away from Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez. Pic Steve Ellis
Owls youngster Alex Hunt gets away from Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez. Pic Steve Ellis

Will it be the team who defended so manfully in a narrow 1-0 defeat against Premier League champions Manchester City in midweek, or the outfit which slumped to heavy home defeats against mid-table triumvirate Blackburn Rovers, Reading and Derby County?

The display against City in the FA Cup on Wednesday night showed the Owls can defend – just like they did in 2020 wins at Leeds United and another Premier League side in Brighton.

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But their slide from third in the Championship at Christmas to mid-table illustrates those performances have been the exceptions.

With 10 games remaining, and eight points adrift of the play-offs, if Garry Monk’s team have any outside hope of gatecrashing the top six then they need a positive result at Griffin Park today.

For that to happen, Monk knows what his team need to do.

“I think the big reason why we did so well when I first came in up to Christmas was because we had that concentration, focus and high level of attitude and commitment,” he said.

“What that allows you to do is always be in a game and be in within an opportunity to take points regardless of whether it is a really good performance or an in between performance.

“You don’t get that drop off and that is what we did well.

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“The consistency was there but in this period that consistency has not been there. It has proved very costly.

“Consistency is what every team is fighting for and I know how important that is.

“We have probably had that consistency in three out of the last four games in terms of Birmingham, Charlton and Man City. We let ourselves down in the first half against Derby and were heavily punished for that.

“We were much better in the second half and against Man City we were at the right level but we need to keep fighting for that consistency and put ourselves in a position to take points.”

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Owls youngster Alex Hunt grabbed his chance to impress in front of the BBC cameras on Wednesday night.

The 19-year-old midfielder came on as a substitute and played the final half hour, nearly creating an equaliser with a teasing pass which just evaded Steven Fletcher at the back post.

He is yet to feature in the Championship, but Monk’s midfield options are limited – missing Kieran Lee and Massimo Luongo (both injured) and Sam Hutchinson frozen out of first-team consideration – and Hunt is pushing for a start against Brentford.

“He is very close,” confirmed Monk. “He has been in quite a few squads and on the pitch a few times now.

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“If an opportunity comes up for him to play more minutes, that is what I want to do.

“I have been delighted with him. He is a good young lad and has a great mentality. He is very single-minded and focused.

“He has got the potential to do very well and have a big future. If the opportunity arises, I have already shown that I will put him on the pitch.

“He came on against Manchester City against some of the best players in the world and showed he was not overawed or fazed.

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“He has got a great future and he will get more minutes before the end of the season for sure,” added Monk.

“When that will be, I don’t know. We will have to assess it as we go along but I have been delighted with him.”

Wednesday are currently in talks with several players – including left-back Morgan Fox and striker Fletcher – about new deals, with a high number of first-team contracts due to expire in the summer.

Monk hopes terms can be swiftly agreed.

“Hopefully very soon,” said Monk, regarding Fox’s deal. “We are still talking. I think there are a few little details... that side I don’t really go into. I leave that to the club, the player and his representative.

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“All I know is Morgan is happy. He wants to be here from the conversations I have had with him. I’m sure that will be sorted as soon as both parties are happy.

“We are trying to work through them. Once those are done, you can then possibly move on and go from there.

“Those two (Fletcher and Fox) are the main ones but there are others in the background going on. From talking to the players and the club, it is going well and hopefully it should be very soon.”

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