Cardiff City v Sheffield Wednesday - Lone training regime prepares Josh Windass for Owls’ big challenge

Sheffield Wednesday’s Josh Windass has been used to training on his own in 2020.

FIGHTING FIT: Sheffield Wednesday's new signing, Josh Windass. Picture: Steve Ellis

Not only did he endure a national lockdown, along with the rest of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he was also left in limbo during the summer.

After finishing an elongated season on loan at Wednesday, he was not allowed to train with his parent club Wigan Athletic during pre-season, as he waited for a permanent deal to be thrashed out on a return to Hillsborough. The 26-year-old was forced to train on local pitches with friends near his home, before his move to Wednesday was finalised last week.

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“I can’t lie, it was mentally a really tough period,” said Windass. “My old club wouldn’t let me go and train with them, for whatever reason – for no reason, actually – but I just had to keep myself in a good mental state and do all the runs every single day by myself and keep myself in the best shape that I could.

FAMILIAR FACE: Josh Windass, pictured during his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday last season. Picture: Steve Ellis

“There’s a couple of pitches near where I live, so I just went down there every day – some days with a couple of friends, some days on my own.

“I was just doing running sessions, training sessions, most days. I was just trying to keep myself in shape.

“I knew I was coming here (Wednesday), I just didn’t know when.

“It was tough because I was contracted to another club, I should have been allowed to train with my club (Wigan). But that was not meant to be, for whatever reason.

“Luckily the gaffer (Garry Monk) trusted me here to get myself in good shape and involved me last week even after only a couple of days training.

“With the work I’ve put in, hopefully that will keep me in good stead pushing forward.”

Wednesday start the season with a 12-point deduction, so know they cannot afford to make a slow start to the season.

Their opening six Championship games see them visit Cardiff City today, followed by away trips to Bristol City and Birmingham City, with Hillsborough games against Watford, QPR and Brentford.

Not that Windass – who netted three goals in six starts for the Owls last season – is unduly worried about kicking off the season with such an unwelcome handicap.

“It’s a challenge, but I don’t think it’s in any of the players’ minds this year,” he said.

“We are going out to try and win every single game, and do as well as we can. Hopefully, we can bridge that gap.

“I think it can only help our mentality that we go into games knowing that we can’t really afford to have an off day, knowing we are 12 points adrift at the start.

“But with the group of lads we have here, and their work ethic, the culture that the manager has created, I am sure the lads will be in a good state of mind to deliver their best football.

“Whether we had the points deduction or not, we were always going to start the season trying to do well.

“No team ever goes out trying to get a slow start.”

Wednesday scored more goals than any other team on their travels last season - 39 in 23 games - but have lost their top three scorers in Steven Fletcher, Jacob Murphy and Atdhe Nuhiu,

Monk has brought in former Rangers attacker Windass, Elias Kachunga and Izzy Brown to try and boost their goals tally and is also looking to recruit a centre forward.

But Windass believes his Owls team-mates must deliver goal threats from all positions, not just the strikers.

“To start with, I think the whole team has a responsibility to create chances and score,” said Windass, who had a spell with Harrogate Railway after being released as a youngster by Huddersfield Town. “I have just got to try and finish the chances when I can, and do my best for the team.

“As a team, we need to score from more areas of the pitch this year, and try and be a bit more of a unit.

“I like to play in behind with my pace, we have got boys like Bazz (Barry Bannan) and Izzy Brown who are creative and can deliver the passes.

“I like to start a little deeper and run in behind from blind. We have got players who can pick out runs, good crossers of the ball, so if i can get as many chances as I can, it’s down to me to put them away.”

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Thank you, James Mitchinson. Editor.