Garry Monk on why the return of Tom Lees has been timely for Sheffield Wednesday

Tom Lees.Tom Lees.
Tom Lees.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY may have lost several influential senior players in recent times, but the return to prominence of another has been rather more welcome.

It will not be lost upon most Wednesdayites that their return to defensive cohesion and order in their past two Championship outings has coincided with the return to fitness of Tom Lees, who has done his bit to help the Owls record back-to-back clean sheets against QPR and Huddersfield Town.

After fatefully switching off at critical junctures in their previous home games against Preston and West Brom - both matches which ended in defeats and the concession of three goals apiece, Wednesday got back to basics in Tuesday's 0-0 draw with the Terriers.

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It may have not been a result to over-enthuse about, but the sight of Lees and central defensive cohort Julian Borner marshalling the backline did at least possess an air of assurance amid uncertain times.

Wednesday manager Garry Monk observed: "Tom has come in the last two games and you can see that bit of leadership - the organisation, concentration and focus of those guys around him and we have looked very solid and that was a question mark going into the latter stages of the games (before). We have looked solid in the last few weeks.

"I am very pleased for him and the squad defensively in the last two games. Offensively, as to be expected, it is really tough on this squad and the extra day (rest for Huddersfield) makes a big difference, although it is not an excuse.

"But if you cannot win the game, make sure you do not lose and it was pleasing to see the defensive side. Credit to the players, they are working hard and trying to do the right things.

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"Everyone who has watched these games can see how hard these guys are trying and working. If one of the chances had gone in, Huddersfield would have had to change their game plan, but the positive is we kept the back door shut."

Wednesday's form after footballing recommencement may not have exactly been stellar, but at a time when several leading players have departed and injuries have disrupted things, Monk believes that incremental improvement has been in evidence - certainly in comparison to their damning statistics ahead of lockdown.

Monk, whose side finish the season with a trip to Fulham on Saturday before welcoming one of his former clubs in Middlesbrough next Wednesday, added: "Our ratio of points has been better in this period, even though we have had the three losses.

"We have definitely improved and even with a couple of those losses against Swansea and Preston, we were in positions to win and took more points. You can see it is all there and trying to come through. But certain games, we have to grind out and make sure you take the point.

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"I was pleased to see the concentration and focus (against Huddersfield) and we have got four points in the last two games, although we want to get three points at home.

"There has definitely been an improvement than before the break. We kept going and the attitude and spirit is there, but of course, we need to get better and be more clinical.

"Overall, I see improvement. It is not enough and where I want it to be yet, but the atmosphere is good in the squad and they are working extremely hard, even though it is tough. They are trying to give everything they have got."

Monk is hopeful that Liam Palmer, Kieran Lee and Connor Wickham will all return at the weekend.