Comment: Iorfa, Börner or Lees? The centre-half Garry Monk should set aside for Brentford visit
As Sheffield Wednesday problems go right now, deciding which one of Tom Lees, Dominic Iorfa and Julian Börner should sit out of Saturday’s clash with Brentford is a pretty pleasant one to mull over.
The defensive trio can all put forward a handsome case forward for ascendancy in what has been one of the most interesting sub-plots to Wednesday’s season – who Garry Monk goes with at the back.
With Iorfa starting out the season as a full-back and Börner an unknown plucked from the German second division, the only question posed in the opening days of the campaign was who should partner club captain Lees in the heart of the Owls defence.
But after an injury to Lees on the last day in August, it was over to those two to fuse together what became one of the division’s meanest defences, striking up a partnership that saw only two goals conceded in a five-match October.
Like the changing of the seasons in that time, it appears to have come and gone. Life has got colder at the back for Wednesday, who are without a clean sheet since their clash with Leeds United on October 26.
The question now should be a familiar one – who should partner club captain Lees in the heart of the Owls defence?
That’s not to say that Iorfa and Börner haven’t been excellent, of course. Iorfa’s performances have positioned him as a mid-season pace-setter for the player of the season award. For several weeks before that, it was Börner that led the chase.
But there was something about Lees at Charlton on Saturday that felt a safer bet, one that radiated assurance in a team that in his absence had developed a reputation for conceding late goals.
Lees’ tally of 11 clearances was the highest in the Championship over the weekend and five of those came in the last 10 minutes. His teammates combined, across the entire game, made five altogether. Assertive, bullish, aerially dominant, it was perhaps the finest of any display from a Wednesday centre-half this season.
Monk has the easy option of picking all three and shunting Iorfa back out to the right, of course, but with Liam Palmer surely set to take back his spot on his return from suspension in midweek, that would be seen to be kicking the issue down the road a few days.
Besides, Iorfa has been a threat in both boxes in recent weeks, those arching, gangly drives through the middle of midfield adding some stardust to a series of stoic defensive displays.
It may be that Börner’s suspension at Charlton arrived at a good time. Mistakes at Blackburn and West Brom cost the Owls dearly and while he was not alone in making them, Lees and Iorfa are surely the way to go for now.
Three matches in a week – Brentford, then Derby and Nottingham Forest away – will provide Wednesday with their toughest test to date this season and they’ll need their strongest, most in-form combination at the back.
For all his rallying, for all his energy and for all that he brings to this Sheffield Wednesday side, it should be Julian Börner that sits out of Saturday’s clash with Brentford.