Sheffield Wednesday players backing Garry Monk, says Steven Fletcher
The Owls’ season has gone into a tailspin since Christmas, winning just one Championship game despite reaching the FA Cup fifth round.
Injuries have hit hard, Monk has at times been critical of the squad’s attitude, senior players Keiren Westwood and Sam Hutchinson have been told to train with the Under-23s and recently there have been constant changes of formation in search of a winning formula.
Top-scorer Fletcher has been badly missed, starting only one match since mid-December. On Saturday, he was back from what he feared might be a season-ending knee injury and although Scott Hogan’s stoppage-time equaliser denied the Owls three points, they showed great character to come from behind twice and claim a 3-3 draw against Birmingham City, whose form has gone in the opposite direction.
The spirit was an answer to those who have started to question Monk’s position.
“It’s got nothing to do with the manager, we have to work hard on the pitch,” argued Fletcher.
“It’s us that go out there and have to play. He can only put things on in training, we need to implement that in the games and if we’re not doing that, it’s our fault, not his.
“I think we’ve shown the fans and everyone else that we’re not just lying down, we’re going to put up a fight.”
Fletcher was ill around Christmas, then stretchered off during the FA Cup third-round win at Brighton and Hove Albion. It has been a particularly tough time to be on the sidelines, but Fletcher hopes his side has come out of the trough of their season.
“When it first happened, I thought the worst but I’m glad I’m back,” reflected the Scot. “I didn’t think I’d be back this season.
“I was out for a while so I need to get a few more minutes before I start a game.
“I got 12 goals before Christmas, which was nice, so, hopefully, I can get a few more between now and the end of the season.”
Full-back Morgan Fox also returned from injury on Saturday, as a half-time substitute.
“When you’re out injured it’s hard to keep the lads’ spirits up but I’m back training now and you can see a lift in the boys in training after we got a few experienced lads back from injury last week, and it helped in the game as well,” said Fletcher.
“There are a few experienced players in the squad but I was one of them and I was out of the team through injury.
“I was like a fan for the last eight weeks and it was tough to watch. If you look at our squad on paper it’s a very good squad so I don’t see why we can’t pick ourselves up.
“We are a good team when we put our minds to it and we work hard. The quality we’ve got will take care of the games so first and foremost we’ve got to just work hard on the pitch.”
Match report: Page 3