'Huge step forward' but Garry Monk has a warning around Sheffield Wednesday's return

Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk is refusing to get carried away with his side’s unbeaten start to life after the coronavirus suspension of football ahead of their midweek clash with title-chasing West Brom.

Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 12:10 pm

The Owls have taken four points from promotion contenders Nottingham Forest and Bristol City since the restart and will be plotting to put a dent in the promotion battle when the Baggies arrive at Hillsborough tomorrow evening.

Monk’s men have looked a different side and will face off against a Slaven Bilic-led outfit that have yet to score since the break, losing to Brentford and drawing with relegation-threatened Birmingham at the weekend.

The Owls boss hailed the side’s attitude following their win at Ashton Gate on Sunday but admits there is still plenty to work on as his players refine their new-look 3-5-2 system.

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Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk shares a smile with Atdhe Nuhiu. Pic: Steve Ellis

“There are a lot of pleasing aspects from both games,” he said. “There is still a lot to work on and we’re not going to be where we want to be just yet but in terms of the steps forward, some of the quality shown, both with the ball and without the ball, defensively, it’s definitely a huge step forward and a building block to go on.

“We talked about that throughout the break and we’ve shown that. We’ve now got seven games to show that even more.”

Five of those seven games come against sides above them in the table and Monk knows his Wednesday players face an intense battle ahead, with all of those matches arriving in a whirlwind three-week period.

Today Morgan Fox, Steven Fletcher, Fernando Forestieri, Sam Hutchinson and Sam Winnall leave Hillsborough, leaving a smaller squad behind to deal with the rigours of that schedule.

On refusing to get carried away with their positive start, Monk said: “You’re going to have to have your moments where you need to defend well or that your keeper has to save shots.

“I don’t think Joey [Wildsmith] was overworked, defensively in these last two games we’ve looked much more solid, much more together and we don’t look like giving away cheap goals.

“We look much more solid, that’s something that we worked on.

“And while we do need more work on it, we look a threat, moving the ball going forward, the boys have adapted well to it. Credit to the players, that’s all I can say.

“They’ve performed really well in these two games, but we know the demand on us is to make sure we continue that in the seven games we left as well.”

Speaking after their win at Bristol City, Monk reported a squad light on injury problems, save for a slight concern over Julian Börner, who was taken off at half-time.

The Owls boss seemed largely unconcerned with the German’s knock, saying: “Julian’s was just a dead leg, we picked up a kick in that first half, but it was just a dead leg he came off with.

“It’s nothing too serious.”

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