Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: New defensive additions will raise standards

Tom Lees
Tom Lees
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It’s a transfer window miracle.

Wednesday finally have four senior centre-backs on their books. Better late than never.

Frederico Venancio and Joost van Aken are risky signings. The duo have zero experience of English football so must adapt quickly to their new surroundings.

The two-week international break will, at the very least,enable Venancio and van Aken to settle in and get to know their new teammates.

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It was vital the Owls brought in defensive reinforcements. Strength in depth is essential given the volume and intensity of the matches in the Championship.

Now Wednesday have plenty of cover to cope with any injuries or suspensions they are bound to pick up over the coming months.

Fresh faces can also galvanise the group and lift the mood around the place. Yet another slow start to a season has left some Wednesdayites feeling very despondent and unconfident over their promotion prospects.

Patience was required in the transfer market but the Owls have injected some much-needed freshness and youth into an ageing squad by capturing Venancio and van Aken.

It is safe to say boss Carlos Carvalhal will be hoping the increased competition for places has a positive knock-on effect on his other defenders.

When Tom Lees is on top of his game, he is without question one of the best centre-backs outside of the Premier League. When he is on song, Lees is commanding in the air and assured on the ball.

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At 26, Lees should be approaching his best years.

But, for whatever reason, Lees’ level of performance has dipped recently. He is not playing teribbly. Just not as well as he has done in the past.

I get that everyone is entitled to an off day or two. Players are not robots. They are human beings.

And Lees has not made a defensive mistake that has culminated in a goal but his passing left a lot to be desired at times in the opening month of the campaign. Simple balls he would have executed upfield in his sleep before are now going out of play for throw ins and goal kicks.

It could be a lack of confidence or perhaps a touch of complacency has crept into Lees’ game. His place in the side has rarely been put under threat in recent years. The numbers and quality simply have not been there.

But Carvalhal will be keeping his fingers crossed that Venancio and van Aken’s arrivals will spur Lees and company on to perform better.

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