Dutch defender Joost van Aken insists he has not been surprised by English football after a mixed start to his Sheffield Wednesday career.
The 23-year-old has seen the inconsistencies of the Championship in his two months at Hillsborough, which started with an impressive debut in a 3-1 win against Nottingham Forest.
In his seven appearances in an Owls shirt, Wednesday have won three, drawn one, and lost three times.
He was left out of the Owls team which lost 2-0 to Derby County on Saturday, to pave the way for the return of fellow Dutch defender Glenn Loovens.
That lasted just four minutes, though, after Loovens was shown a straight red card for a foul on Matej Vydra, which resulted in a penalty.
Van Aken was forced to watch from the sidelines at Pride Park, as boss Carlos Carvalhal opted against bringing on the centre-half, instead switching left-back Morgan Fox to parter Tom Lees and drop midfielder Adam Reach into the full-back spot.
Van Aken is due to replace the suspended Loovens – who must now serve a one-match ban – in Saturday lunchtime’s crucial South Yorkshire derby with Barnsley.
After picking up just four points from a possible 18 in the Championship, stranded in mid-table, the pressure is on Carvalhal to keep in touch with the top six.
“It’s exactly what I expected, a hard competition and a hard league,” said van Aken.
“We still have the same aims this season, we are not in the best situation but we have shown we can be a good team.
“I believe we are strong but we need to show this on the pitch and become consistent and that is the most important.
“If we can achieve that, then we will climb up the league,” added the defender.
Van Aken - reported to have cost the Owls £4m in August – has won admirers for his ability to bring the ball out of defence, while his passing is not in question, but the Netherlands Under-21 international is having to learn “on the job” of the demands English football throws up.
In an interview with Dutch website, footballoranje.com, van Aken was questioned over his international aspirations.
He said: “I think it is a possibility to step up to the senior squad in the future but I am not thinking about that in this moment.
“I’m just thinking about Sheffield Wednesday and becoming a better player here, producing better performances with the team.
“We need wins, we need points so that’s the most important thing and all I am thinking about in this moment and nothing else.”
Defender Ben Gibson has signed a new five-year deal with Middlesbrough, the Championship side have announced.
The 24-year-old progressed through the youth ranks at the Riverside Stadium club and has spent time on loan at Plymouth, York and Tranmere.
“We’re delighted to announce that Ben Gibson has signed a new five-year contract with the club,” Middlesbrough said in a statement.
“Having been with Boro since the age of 10, and risen through the ranks of the Academy through to the first team, the 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a new deal that runs to 2022.”
Gibson, who has represented England at age-group level and played for the England Under-21s, said: “I’m delighted to sign a new contract.
“I’ve been lucky enough to go on and play for the club, and even captain the team, and I’ve had some amazing experiences here.”
Wales international Ben Woodburn has signed a new and improved contract with Liverpool.
The 18-year-old academy graduate has enjoyed a whirlwind year, having made his debut for the Reds, become the club’s youngest ever scorer and netted for Wales on his senior international debut.