Sheffield Wednesday: Forgotten pair George Boyd and Sam Winnall earn praise after return to first-team fold

One hadn't started a game in four months, the other hadn't played at all since February.

Monday, 31st December 2018, 11:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 7:16 am
Owls George Boyd back in first team action......Pic Steve Ellis

For most players, the challenge of playing away against the highest-scoring team in England would seem daunting after such an extended spell on the sidelines.

But George Boyd and Sam Winnall both earned praise for their performances against West Bromwich Albion.

Owls George Boyd back in first team action......Pic Steve Ellis

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Sheffield Wednesday caretaker boss Lee Bullen has re-integrated a number of senior players who were previously frozen out of the first-team picture.

Boyd was ostracised by former head coach Jos Luhukay, and was limited to outings for the under-23s.

Winnall, meanwhile, has been out since the early part of 2018 after damaging knee ligaments whilst out on loan at Derby County.

The pair are now both firmly back in the first-team picture and Bullen, who has led Wednesday to seven points from a possible nine over the festive period, has paid tribute to the pair ahead of the visit of Birmingham City.

Back in first team action Owls Sam Winnall makes his presence felt ......Pic Steve Ellis

'It's great for the group that everyone is back," Bullen said.

"George has made a career out of being one of the highest-runners in the Premier League when he was at Burnley.

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"We knew fitness was never going to be an issue for George. 

"It was just a case of getting used to the pace of the game, having not played for so long.

"He has put in another mammoth effort (Against West Brom) with the amount of yards he has covered. 

"There were no real worries about it to be honest with you. 

"His performance justified the decision to play him."

As for Winnall, Bullen says his return required more care given the complexity of his recovery.

The former Barnsley man had previously started his comeback in October when he netted for the under-23s against Crewe Alexandra.

However, the 27-year-old then suffered with calf and hamstring niggles which prevented him from returning earlier.

Winnall, who joined the Owls two years ago, was introduced for the final ten minutes of the clash at the Hawthorns.

'We were always hoping to put Sam Winnall on," Bullen added.

"We hoped Sam's energy in the last 10 to 15 minutes would give us a break. 

"Unfortunately, it didn't go that way but it was good for his head to get back into the game. 

"It's great to have him back involved in the group. 

"All the players have thrown themselves into it, so we know whoever we call upon is match fit and ready to play."

The next challenge sees Bullen welcome Garry Monk's in-form Blues to Hillsborough.

City are seventh in the table and more than five hours have elapsed since they last conceded. 

But Bullen insists Wednesday are themselves in good spirits after a profitable run of form over Christmas that has seen them take seven points from nine.

Bullen added: "We know Garry Monk's team have been on a heck of a run of form and they are up there challenging for the play-off positions.

"They've had a fantastic season.

"But, there's nothing to fear.

"The last three performances from us, you can see a bit of confidence and spirit coming back.

"We'll look forward to the game.

"It would be nice to take it to ten points out of 12."