Over the past few seasons Kieran Lee has placed himself into a position whereby if he’s fit, he plays.
The midfielder’s box-to-box dynamism and ability to ghost into the opposition area to slot home important goals had made him a key performer for Carlos Carvalhal, who admitted in the past that when he first arrived as head coach, Lee was wasn’t expected to play such an important role.
“He is like Superman. He never ever complains, gets on with his work, and I have never once heard him say he is sore,” said team mate Jack Hunt.
Adam Reach added:
“He’s a different breed of athlete. He can be out for months on end and come back and play 75 minutes like it’s nothing.”
However, if the last two Sheffield Wednesday games are anything to go by, then the days where a fit Kieran Lee becomes one of the first names on the scoresheet could well be over.
Lee has had another injury setback on his problematic hip and while it’s not as bad as was first feared, it’s quite likely he’ll miss the match against Bristol City after the international break.
And that should be the case even if he is fully fit.
On Saturday against Aston Villa there appeared to be a perfect balance to the midfield and that came about in part because players were in the positions in which they can perform at their best.
For all of the good that Carvalhal has done since taking charge at Hillsborough, one of the fair criticisms that can be levelled at him is a tendency to try and squeeze players into a side regardless of where they are playing.
Square pegs in round holes is a phrase often used.
He’s not the first to fall victim to that - various England managers attempted to find a way to put Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes all in the same side and it rarely, if ever, worked out.
When Lee is back, based on the display at Villa Park from those playing, Carvalhal will simply have to make a choice and that will mean leaving someone out. That’s what happens when you have a big squad and it’s the head coach’s job to deal with it.
Crucial to all of this was the superb showing by Jacob Butterfield who was immense in the midfield and it would be a travesty should he be dropped.
You could hardly leave out Barry Bannan, who has been the most consistent player this season.
Moving Bannan to the left, then, doesn’t play to his strengths and that doesn’t take into account the fine form of Adam Reach on that flank.
Try Lee on the right?
That’s been done this season and proved to be a bad call as he was virtually anonymous.
All of that then points to something new for Carvalhal. Lee alongside him on the bench for a while, biding his time.