Sheffield Wednesday’s experimental centre back pairing has been given the thumbs up by one half of the duo, Tom Lees.
Eyebrows were raised in pre-season when head coach Carlos Carvalhal declared his intent to field Sam Hutchinson at centre half this season, despite coming fresh from an excellent campaign in a defensive midfield role.
Any fears however were quashed last weekend as Wednesday opened up the new season with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
The Owls’ back line found itself under pressure in the second half but held up strong with Hutchinson appearing to revel in a role he has previously only filled as a stop-gap.
It is expected Lees and Hutchinson will find themselves with just as much work to do this afternoon as Wednesday head to Norwich City.
Lees is enjoying the challenge and expects his pairing with Hutchinson to get better and better.
“The partnership is developing great,” Lees said.
“Sam has done fantastic because it’s never easy changing position, even if you have played there before.
“He’s a really talented player and it speaks volumes for him that he can change position and still excel.
“I really enjoy playing with him.
“It’s different to other centre back partnerships because neither of us are big, bulky defenders so it’s quite nice.
“We both enjoy having the ball and trying to play out from the back.
“It’s been good, and Sam has done really well there so hopefully that can carry on.”
As Hutchinson settles into his new role, Lees insists no player ever stops learning.
And the centre half – one of Wednesday’s top performers since his arrival two years ago – says he is determined to continue to improve.
He said: “There’s all sorts of thing you can improve in your game, no matter how old you are.
“We talk about that in training whether it’s individual defending or as part of the back four.
“I know what I need to work on and the other players know what they need.
“But at the end of the day it’s about keeping clean sheets for us and that’s the biggest thing.
“I’ll be trying to do that as much as I can.”
Wednesday would certainly be delighted with a clean sheet from this evening’s trip to Norwich who are widely tipped for an immediate return to the Premier League following relegation last term.
The Canaries kicked off the new season with a 4-1 demolition of Blackburn Rovers and Lees, understandably, is expecting a tough test.
He said: “They have got fantastic players.
“The majority of their squad is capable of playing in the Premier League. We saw what they did in the first game of the season and what a threat they can be.
“We’ve done our homework on them.
“We know what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at so we will be prepared for it.
“It’ll be a tough game but they’ll be confident after the start they’ve had.”