Sheffield Wednesday centre-back Tom Lees believes the visit of high-flying Bournemouth will be their toughest assignment to date.
Stuart Gray’s men welcome the Cherries to Hillsborough tomorrow night looking to halt an eight-match winless run.
But Bournemouth, sitting in second position in the Championship, will head to South Yorkshire searching for a seventh consecutive win in all competitions and having registered 16 goals in their last four outings.
It promises to be a stern test for Lees and company as the Owls chase a tenth clean sheet this season.
Speaking after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Charlton Athletic, Lees told The Star: “Bournemouth will be the toughest test of the season. We will aiming to prove that we have a mean defence. They are free-scoring side at the moment so it would be good to keep them quiet. Bournemouth are a top team. It will be a real achievement if we can get a victory against them. It’s been a tough run of games since the last international break and Bournemouth will be a big, big test.
“We’ve then got Rotherham at home so we have two really tough games. We need to be spot on in both of them.
“We have to be confident. We played well in the first half at Charlton. We have got to take the positives from that and learn from the second half. We need to perform well.”
Wednesday have drawn out eight out their 15 league fixtures and Lees felt they dropped two points at Charlton after taking a first-half lead through Royston Drenthe.
“Charlton was a prime opportunity to get a win,” he said. “We are unbeaten in three.
“We have only lost three times so that’s a good sign but we need to pick up three points regularly to start moving upwards. Draws are just going to keep us in a steady position.”
Gray’s troops have scored only 12 times but Lees is refusing to blame the forwards for their lack of goals.
He stressed: “Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in the game. Royston scored a terrific goal. He showed his quality. He started the game really well and could have had a few.
“It’s down to us all. We haven’t really chipped in with many goals from the back. You can’t really point the finger at the forwards.”
Gray, who has scotched reports linking them with Nottingham Forest forward Jamie Paterson, confirmed Joe Mattock will be sent for a scan after damaging his ankle in the first half versus Charlton.
“He’s in a lot of pain.” said Gray. “When he’s down and smacking the floor with the palm of his hand, you know he’s hurt himself badly. It’s an ankle injury but we don’t know the extent of it until he’s been scanned or had had an X-ray.
“We hope he makes a speedy recovery.”
Lewis Buxton is unlikely to return to action until after the next international break and Gray accepts he needs to bring in further reinforcements to bolster his options.
“We know we need to strengthen,” he said. “Something needs to happen before Bournemouth.
“Whether something will happen before Tuesday, I don’t know. We are a little thin on the ground.
“We tried to sign a player before Charlton but it didn’t go through. I think the player was involved at his club again and they’d had an injury in training so he was drafted into the squad to feature on Saturday.
“We will keep plugging away. There is a long list of players we have identified and been in contact with.”