Everything Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk had to say on Sam Winnall and Jordan Rhodes' woes in front of goal

Do Sheffield Wednesday have a goal-scoring problem?

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 9:45 pm

The stats would perhaps suggest the Owls have no major attacking shortcomings.

Wednesday have managed to find the back of the net on 15 occasions in 10 Championship outings, firing only two blanks this season. Not bad, not great.

But seven of their 15 goals have come in two away fixtures: Reading on the opening-day and Middlesbrough last weekend.

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Owls striker Sam Winnall

This is not a free-scoring team.

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A lack of creativity and cutting edge in front of goal has at times hindered the Owls' progress.

Hull City on Tuesday evening was a classic case in point. Wednesday did not fashion too many clear-cut chances at the KCOM Stadium yet still had enough opportunities to beat their Yorkshire neighbours. They were left to rue some wayward finishing from Sam Winnall and Adam Reach in the second half.

Both Winnall and record-signing Jordan Rhodes have struggled to make an impact and hold down a regular starting spot. The pair have scored just twice between them this calendar year.

Asked how to get the best out of Winnall and Rhodes, manager Garry Monk said: "There’s two ways, it’s for me to work with them on a daily basis to give them that belief, that work on the training ground.

"But then as a player, it’s your job as well is to fight for that form. Sometimes when you are in a difficult phases, every player goes through it, it’s that sheer determination to come out of that period.

"Number one for strikers is to score goals, but ultimately it’s that performance level. That’s what gets you there.

"Everyone thinks you score a goal and you are back in form. No, it’s not, it’s how you perform.

"Whenever a player is going through difficult times, it’s that fight and determination to fight for that performance.

"What I can say, since I came in here, is that I can see a good determination with the pair of them."

Winnall registered after coming on as a second half substitute in the victory over Huddersfield Town last month. But the 28-year-old has failed to build on that impressive cameo, fluffing his lines at the business end of the pitch against Everton in the cup and Hull.

"Sam scored his goal in the Huddersfield game, and strikers will be judged on goals, but it’s the performance which builds your confidence, not goals," insisted Monk.

"Goals will always come off the back of performances, not the other way round. It’s my job to help them.

"And for them to be ready, so when they get their opportunities, they take them. In the meantime, we keep fighting for their performances and their fitness."

Wednesday are set to be boosted by the return from injury of in-form striker Steven Fletcher when they entertain Wigan Athletic on Saturday. Fletcher sat-out the trip to Humberside due to a minor ankle problem and was sorely missed.

So far, the Scotland international has contributed a third of the Owls' league goals.

Asked if Wednesday are overly reliant on Fletcher, he said: "Look at the Middlesbrough game, we had different scorers, so that’s not exactly it.

"You always want strikers to score goals. But, naturally, when your strikers score most of the goals, you think we are overly reliant. We try not to be.

"We have shown in the games we have played, that we can can be threats from other areas. We have spread them out a bit, Middlesbrough was a good example."

Monk will have to make one enforced change in midfield as Sam Hutchinson will serve a one-match suspension after picking up five yellow cards. Massimo Luongo, a £1m recruit from Queens Park Rangers at the end of the summer transfer window, is in contention for his first league start.

Monk said: "It’s difficult when you first come in, you have to make a snap decision on who is going to play.

"Making that decision for the Huddersfield game was difficult. You make it off the first few days with the group.

"But since then, they have done very well. A few of the players have been unlucky.

"The job is to be ready. The players who have played the majority of minutes since I have arrived, have done well enough to keep their place. That’s how football should be.

"But with opportunities - suspensions or loss of form - then your place is up for grabs. When you get that opportunity you have to try and take it."