Sheffield Wednesday: Tom LeesÂ on the seven-game sequenceÂ that will shape theÂ Owls' season
Another day, another tough game ... captain Tom Lees knows that Sheffield Wednesday have embarked on their most daunting run of fixtures of the season.
The Owls kicked off after the international break with a 2-2 comeback draw against Stoke City, who are among the favourites for Championship promotion, and head to another fancied team, Nottingham Forest, on Wednesday.
"Forest are a top side," Lees said. "All month we have got top teams to play."
After Forest, Wednesday travel to Aston Villa, before home clashes with Leeds United and West Brom, an away test at Bristol City and a Hillsborough encounter against Middlesbrough.
The Owls are up to ninth in the table and have 10 points from their last four league outings after turning round an early 2-0 goal deficit against the Potters as Marco Matias reduced the arrears and Barry Bannan's scored an exquisite 82nd-minute free-kick equaliser.
"We need to take our second-half performance against Stoke into the games coming up," Lees added.
After a poor start to the season, Wednesday have turned round their campaign by going four matches unbeaten, but haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their seven second-tier fixtures.
Lees believes that might be the price Jos Luhukay's side have to pay as they look to develop their attacking stlye.
"It's frustrating," the skipper said. "We have had a lot of changes in personnel and formations. It's never really been a settled team.
"We are starting to get a bit more settled now, playing a lot more open and expansive game, so I think we are going to leave ourselves a bit more vulnerable.
"In previous years we have kept lots of clean sheets but the football hasn't been great. Everyone can see how we want to play, and sometimes that will cost you goals.
"We are not playing the same football. In my first season (at Wednesday), the pitch was a mudbath and nobody wanted to play a game of football.Â
"It's easier to keep a clean sheet in games like that, when you are going toe to toe, as opposed to playing total football when sometimes you leave yourself open."
However, with a month of matches against the division's best sides coming up, Lees isn't averse to improvements at the back.
"Obviously, we can always tighten up, and we need to," he said. "Top teams never give away cheap goals and will keep clean sheets, so we need to do that."