Like many managers this weekend, Garry Monk will shuffle his pack for the FA Cup, but the Sheffield Wednesday manager says he will not be resting players – just dropping them.
Monk was angry after the New Year’s Day defeat at home to Hull City, the Owls’ third in a row.
While he is keen to keep his anger in perspective, he will still take it out on his players when naming his side for the third-round tie at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Some who have been frustrated on the fringes will be given a chance to show they can improve on a first team that has been inconsistent in a helter-skelter division where steadiness can be extremely hard to achieve.
“There will be some changes, but there deserves to be,” insists Monk. “We haven’t had the week that we wanted and there’s other factors in terms of how many games we’ve had but there’s some players that deserve opportunities as well, so that’s how I view it.
“There will be some changes but I think that’s because there needs to be.
In any run that’s not going your way you want to end it as quickly as possible.Garry Monk
“A lot gets said on why clubs change their teams (for cup matches).
“This round in particular falls on the Championship clubs after a period where we have so many games and you have to be very careful injury-wise and for freshness, but the only reason there will be changes in this game – and there will only be some – is because there deserves to be after the week we’ve had. There has to be.
“Whatever team goes on the pitch will be a strong team to put on a performance to be proud of. It’s not about resting players, I don’t think there deserves to be rest after the week we’ve had, but some deserve an opportunity.
“I wouldn’t say the players are letting themselves down but it’s not the week we wanted.
“If you look at the week before that when we played Brentford, Derby and Nottingham Forest, you saw just what we were capable of (picking up seven points). The following week, it’s simply that we didn’t hit those levels but this is the Championship and it can happen.
“We want better. We need to be better, we should have been better, we know that, there’s no excuses from our side.
“We have to fight back and show the desire and determination to do that as soon as possible.
“Everyone can have a bad week in the Championship and, unfortunately, sometimes you can play three games in it. It happens, but the key is not to accept it.”
As someone who “grew up on the FA Cup”, Monk does not want to disrespect it, but there is also much to be said for winning for winning’s sake, especially when confidence is low.
“Results give that extra bit of confidence to kick on,” he argues. “In any run that’s not going your way you want to end it as quickly as possible.
“But we’ve got to remain realistic and balanced after one week.
“We’ve seen what the team is capable of and the work that needs to be done.
“I’ve said from the very start, it is not going to happen overnight, we aren’t going to become a promotion-winning side with ease, this is going to take work.
“We’re not going to fall off the edge of a cliff because of three bad results just as, after six games unbeaten, we couldn’t get too high.
“We need to understand we haven’t done well in this week but we have a chance to turn it around. The main part is hard work. We have to continue to fight.”
Second-guessing Brighton will be difficult too for Monk, who was a youth-teamer at Southampton during Graham Potter’s short spell as a player there.
Potter was a regular visitor at Swansea City’s training ground when Monk was a player there and assistant manager Graham Jones a close friend. Potter went on to manage the Swans before moving to the south coast.
“They could make a lot of changes with the squad they have and their system seems to change all the time so it’s difficult to prepare for them,” says Monk.
“We have to focus on ourselves and the fundamentals have to be at a high level.
“I spoke to him (Potter) just before he took the Swansea job and we played against them last season.
“He’s a good guy, he’s doing very well.”
One position the Owls will not change is in goal, with Cameron Dawson’s rivals not physically ready to push him.
“Keiren Westwood has a shoulder injury and Joe Wildsmith, who has been on the bench in his absence, is yet to play senior football since damaging his cruciate knee ligaments in pre-season.
“Keiren was back out on the pitch on Thursday,” reveals Monk. “It’s dictated by his pain threshold. It’s down to him.
“Cameron Dawson will be in goal. Joe’s still coming back from his injury.
“He’s doing very well, he’s been back in training for three or four weeks but he just needs a little bit more time, a few more minutes with the under-23s, to get back up to full speed but he’s looking stronger and stronger.”
Fernando Forestieri is not due back in training until next week and Liam Palmer is still not ready to return either, after an ankle problem.
“He’s had a scan and he’s lucky his ligaments aren’t torn or anything like that,” Monk says of Palmer.
“That’s the good news of it, but he’s got some damage to his ankle.
“I’ve been told he’s a quick healer.
“Damage-wise, it’s not as bad as first thought but the swelling’s not where it needs to be to be in contention for this game.”
Midfielder Massimo Luongo should be one of those given their chance after missing the last two matches as a precaution following a head injury, but no concussion.