Sheffield Wednesday: Owls star plays down significance of facing former club

Tom Lees

Tom Lees

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It is business as usual for Tom Lees as Sheffield Wednesday prepare to face the club he supported as a boy.

Carlos Carvalhal’s charges lock horns with arch rivals Leeds United tomorrow chasing their first away victory of the campaign.

It will be the third time Lees has lined up against the White since he swapped West Yorkshire for South Yorkshire in July 2014. Lees, who came through the ranks at Elland Road, making 120-plus league appearances, said he paid little attention to the reception he received on his first return last year.

He told The Star: “I didn’t really notice it too much to be honest as when a game comes, I am that caught up in it and have all sorts going through my head. I don’t really notice what is going on. It was probably worse for my mum and dad in the crowd watching.

“If we are winning, I am bound to get a bit of stick and if we are losing, then I am bound to get a bit as well. It won’t be a win situation really. Hopefully, I can show what sort of player I am and not let it affect me and play how I have been playing.”

Lees, whose parents hail from Birmingham, added: “My team growing up was Leeds as I was raised up here and it is who all my mates supported. But obviously that focus goes to whoever you are playing for and that’s the same with them (parents) and they support whoever I am playing for.

“everyone is bound to say it is going to be a big game for me, which it is; it’s a local derby and Leeds are a big club and we are as well. It is a meeting of two forces in the Championship.

“But I don’t look at it as anything other than a big local derby, really.

“I try not to make too much of it, maybe other people might do.

“It has all changed since I was at Leeds, going right back to the staff and as far back into the club as you can get. It’s a lot different now. Like every team, I will have respect for them but my full focus is on Wednesday.

“Leeds have looked solid this season and hard to beat. Up front, they have spent a bit of money and it will be good with us to hopefully show we can deal with it.”

Following big changes on and off the field at both clubs, Lees claims Wednesday and Leeds are on the up.

“Leeds and Wednesday are teams who are striving to get towards the top end of the table and there’s a lot of expectation,” he admitted. “It will be interesting.

“When you look since last year when we played them, we have got two new managers and pretty much two new teams and it won’t be similar to last season when we played. It will be a fresh game and hopefully a good game for us.”

He added: “I think definitely here at Sheffield, there’s definitely a sense of optimism with a new start and new beginnings.

“I know up in Leeds, there’s a feeling they are getting a new vibrant young team and that’s their approach to this season - full of energy. And they have added to the squad.

“Chris Wood is a good player but they have good wide players as well. They have a lot of threats so we have got to be able to handle their energy and movement and things like that.

“It will be a good game and plenty of energy on the pitch, thats for sure. We have shown this season we have got legs and can close down and move the ball and that’s how they will look to play as well.

Lees accepts Wednesday must keep their cool in the heat of the battle.

He said: “Maybe that will be one thing in our favour in that maybe we have got a bit more experience.

“A lot of their young players have played in big games and things like that. Keeping 11 on the pitch and not letting the occasion get to us, as I know it will be a passionate day.

“We just need to try and implement the things Carlos [Carvalhal] wants to do.”

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