JULIAN BORNER may have missed being named Championship player of the month but not the praise of Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk.
The German defender has been the Owls’ best player of the season, after arriving on a free transfer at Hillsborough in the summer.
The 28-year-old has taken the transition to English football in his stride and was one of four players, along with Huddersfield Town’s Juninho Bacuna and former Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw, to be shortlisted for the Championship’s player of the month.
The trio were today pipped to the prize by Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, but Monk is full of praise for his German centre-back.
He arrived in South Yorkshire as a relative unknown, with little fanfare, but has helped make the Owls one of the best defences in the Championship.
Only Leeds United have conceded fewer goals, a statistic made even more impressive when you consider injured captain Tom Lees has not played since August.
Borner made a rare error in the build-up to the second goal in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Blackburn Rovers last weekend, but Monk knows the German has the mental strength to overcome that setback.
“His mentality helped him to come over to this country and the type of league he has faced, the Championship, in terms of how physical and mentally demanding it is,” said Monk.
“That has allowed him to adapt quicker, so credit to him.
“Overall, he has consistently performed well, and I am sure there will be more to come from him. How he has handled that transition has been really impressive.
“He is a good guy around the group, all the players and staff like him.
“He’s very respectful, but determined, a fighter and that’s his mentality. He likes the aggressive side of it and he looks at it as a challenge over here, the physical side of the league.
“You face different types of strikers week-in week-out, he’s trying to rise to that challenge and there’s still a lot of improvement in him to come.”
Midfielder Barry Bannan returns to the Owls team – after missing the Ewood Park defeat due to a groin injury – for tomorrow’s visit of fourth-placed Swansea City.
But the game comes too quickly for Lees and midfielder Massimo Luongo (ankle).
Monk spent 10 years at Swansea as a player – before stepping up to be manager – but his priority is simple.
“He said: “In terms of the game, it’s got nothing to do with me. It’s about Sheffield Wednesday and my players trying to put on a performance to get us three points. That’s all I am focused on.”