"He'll get better": Sheffield Wednesday skipper Lees hails impact of new defensive partner Julian Borner
Sheffield Wednesday skipper Tom Lees has hailed the instant impact of his new defensive partner Julian Borner, believing the German will ‘only get better’ as his career in south Yorkshire goes on.
Lees, now into his sixth season with Wednesday having joined from Leeds in 2014, appears to have struck up an instant understanding with the former Germany youth international since his arrival this summer.
The pair are yet to conceded a goal at home in the Championship despite a language barrier that Lees admits sometimes sees the former Arminia Bielefeld captain shouting at him in his mother tongue.
Lees said: “He doesn't speak too much English but I can't really complain as I don't speak too much German!
“We have just said to each other, even if he shouts to me in German, I don't care. I would rather he just says something to me.
“To be fair to him, he is trying. I think that will get better.
“We have both played enough in our careers. When you play football, you can kind of read each other anyway. I think that comes naturally and he makes good decisions. He is not rash. You can read him.”
It is perhaps a huge credit to Borner that Michael Hector, Lees’ centre-half partner last season and the reigning player of the year at Hillsborough, is a name so rarely discussed in S6 after a summer that saw him stay at parent club Chelsea despite the club’s best efforts.
Much has been made of Borner’s leadership qualities and the positive effect he has had on the changing room, despite language difficulties.
Lees said: “A lot of the time there doesn't need to be communication, it can just be a good presence in the dressing room and you can tell that straight away.
“Everybody gets on well with him and I'm sure as he learns the language more he will become more vocal and things like that.
“You can let your football do the talking and since he has come in he has definitely impressed us all with how he plays.”
But the Wednesday captain knows all too well that life at the back can be cut throat, and said that competition for places among the club’s defenders will help to get the best out of the two incumbents as Lee Bullen prepares to shuffle his pack ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup clash against Rotherham United.
“Hopefully we can carry on playing like we have been doing and he can improve and hopefully he will get even better as he settles in,” he said.
“We know now that we have the likes of Dom who can play at centre-back, Batesy has come in and Jordan is there.
“Like everywhere on the pitch, there is competition and we are going to have to keep playing well to keep our places.”