Sheffield Wednesday v Leicester City: Mallik Wilks' improvement a good sign but not enough with points badly needed

Danny Rohl says Mallik Wilks' weekend performance is proof he is taking Sheffield Wednesday's players to the next level but somebody needs to tell the league table sooner rather than later.

If this were not the Championship, the bottom-of-the-table Owls' Wednesday-night game against leaders Leicester City – 36 points ahead after only 17 games – would be a complete write-off.

Rohl has lost five of his six matches in charge, George Byers scoring their only goal in that sequence at struggling Birmingham City on Saturday. They did beat Rotherham United 2-0 at Hillsborough.

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Rohl has spoken about his vision for the club and is continuing to work on its structure – appointing Sal Bibbo as goalkeeping coach last week and promoting Andy Sharp, Andy Holdsworth and Neil Thompson a rung up the ladder to under-18, -21 and first-team coach.

He also pointed to the performance of former Doncaster Rovers, Barnsley and Hull City winger Wilks' performance at St Andrew's as a sign of the impact his coaches are making.

“I think it was maybe Mallik’s best performance since he arrived here at this club,” the German said of the Leeds United academy product. “He showed what he can do, he showed his potential, and this is also the challenge for me – to improve my players. I’ve seen the improvement from nearly everyone, and we’re taking the players to the next level.

"Mallik showed in the last two weeks what he can do on the pitch, and he invested a lot. His physical data showed he sprinted a lot, but he was also the guy that scored a lot over the last 14 days in training. He scored a lot of goals and showed his quality in the box.

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"I spoke to him before the game and demanded he transfer it from training to the match."

IMPRESSED: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl liked what he saw of Mallik Wilks at Birmingham CityIMPRESSED: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl liked what he saw of Mallik Wilks at Birmingham City
IMPRESSED: Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl liked what he saw of Mallik Wilks at Birmingham City

All well and good, but the points gap to safety is in double figures.

“I have a vision, a big goal, with this club," said Rohl. "At the moment, though, it’s about taking points – and we know this.”

Losing 2-1 on Saturday to a Birmingham side whose new manager, Wayne Rooney, had collected even fewer points (one) from his first five games than Rohl was dispiriting, but the defeated manager saw reasons for optimism.

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"In the last six games I think I've spoken five times about how we deserved more,” he said.

"If you look at the xG (expected goals) we were again over two and scored once. The opponent had an xG, I think, of a little bit over one.

"All the things at the moment are a little bit frustrating and disappointing but I'm here to improve my team, improve my players, to create an identity for this club. I know it's hard but I have a clear idea of what I want, a clear identity I want to see on the pitch and I have a team, from my side, able to do this but it's not enough to take something (from the game).

"It was disappointing when we played at nearly the highest level we can as a team and we didn't get something."

Callum Paterson returns from suspension but it is Josh Windass' turn to sit the game out for accumulating five bookings this season.