Sheffield Wednesday: Owls ace makes case for the defence

Michael Turner
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By playing a more expansive, attacking brand of football, Sheffield Wednesday have, undisputedly, left themselves a little more open defensively this term.

The Owls, under Stuart Gray, built their success on being well organised and hard to break down. It was no fluke that they equalled a club-record 17 clean sheets in a league season and one of the key performers was Tom Lees.

Alongside club captain Glenn Loovens, Lees excelled at the heart of their rearguard and was a first-team regular, missing just two matches.

But Wednesday have found shut-outs harder to come by this time around, recording just two in 11 Championship fixtures and Lees recognises they must rectify that record to push on, starting at Queens Park Rangers tonight.

The 24-year-old, the Owls’ only ever present, said: “The personnel has changed quite a bit.

“There is only me from last Saturday who played last season. The rest of the team is pretty different but we are playing more open football. I don’t think it’s more risky because I think we are quite sensible in the way that we play and we are not being overconfident.

“Some of the games last season were not pretty and we almost got dragged down a bit to the level of both teams grinding each other down.

“I think this year, when teams come to play us, they know that it’s going to be a top quality game and that brings the best out in both sides.

“We want to try and keep more clean sheets, but winning is the most important thing.”

Since the trip to Bolton Wanderers, Lees has been paired with Norwich loanee Michael Turner.

“I have really enjoyed playing with Michael,” he said. “He is quite similar to Glenn [Loovens] in that they are both really experienced defenders. You know what you are going to get from them as defenders nine times out of 10 and that’s quite reassuring.

“When I turn to look left, I think I am going to guess right where he is going to be most of the time. He has played really well since coming in and Glenn is a good player so to keep him out shows how well he has done.

“It’s good to know we have competition there and that keeps everybody on their toes.”

Although Owls are playing three times in the space of six days, boss Carlos Carvalhal has no complaints over the schedule.

He said: “We don’t want to complain about absolutely nothing. We will be ready to play against QPR. We don’t want any excuses and want to fight for 96 minutes to try to win.

“This (the fixtures) is not something we can control. We have to accept and play. We must manage are team in the best way to try to be 100% in the games. That is what we are doing.”

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