Sheffield Wednesday: Tom Lees reveals his big Owls regret

Tom Lees played an hour of the Under-23s clash away to Huddersfield Town on Monday
Tom Lees played an hour of the Under-23s clash away to Huddersfield Town on Monday
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It takes a big man to admit when he has made a mistake.

And Owls defender Tom Lees has revealed for the first time he should not have tried to play through the pain barrier earlier in the season.

Tom Lees scoring on his return to action against Huddersfield

Tom Lees scoring on his return to action against Huddersfield

The 27-year-old has not featured in Wednesday’s last 17 fixtures due to a groin problem.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, Lees said: “I had played with the injury for a month or so.

“I tried to do everything I could to stay on the pitch but it probably got to the point where it was a little bit stupid of me, to be honest, to carry on playing. If anything, I made it worse.

“Maybe if I had swallowed my pride a bit earlier I might have been out a couple of weeks rather than a couple of months.

Owls defender Tom Lees

Owls defender Tom Lees

“But that’s the way it goes. I’m a bit too stubborn at times. I have to learn from it.

“I can’t do anything about what’s gone on. I’ve got to look forward now.”

His groin injury required surgery.

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“I had to have an operation on my groin because I ripped it off from my pelvis,” he said. “The surgery I had done cleaned everything up.”

It is the third year in a row where Lees has suffered a serious knock midway through a campaign. Hamstring and knee injuries have hampered him in the past.

But Lees says his groin injury was the worst of the lot.

“It has probably been the hardest three months of my career with the injury,” conceded Lees.

“It was very tough not being able to play.

“You’ve got the fact that you are not playing, which is hard enough to deal with, added to the fact the way things have gone for the team on the pitch and the whole load of other injuries we have got. It has not been a good three months.

“Nobody wants to be injured. It is not enjoyable and it has not been a good three months.

“I’m just looking to put it behind me now and focus on getting back out on the pitch and doing as well as I can.”

After 82 days and almost three months of painstaking rehabilitation, Lees made his long-awaited return to action on Monday.

He completed an hour of the development squad’s 3-2 defeat at Huddersfield Town. Lees scored the Owls’ opener, tapping home from close range after the hosts failed to deal with a corner.

He said: “It was nice to be out playing again. The manager wanted me to get some minutes under my belt and I was more than willing to play with the Under-23s. It was good to get the minutes and the fitness in.

“The plan was to play an hour and, luckily, I didn’t feel anything untoward.

“The groin felt good and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it went. Obviously, it has taken me a bit of time to get back into the speed of things.

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“I’m coming back in now and we’ve got a new formation so I’ve got to adapt to that as well.

“My body is feeling good and I’m trying to do everything I can to feel sharp and get fit again.”

Tomorrow’s FA Cup fifth round encounter with Swansea City will probably come too soon for Lees.

“I’m not too sure whether I will need another Under-23s game or not,” said Lees.

“It is a bit different in terms of coming back into the team after an injury now. I will see what the manager says and what his plans are.”

Since Lees’ last competitive outing away to Ipswich Town on November 22, Wednesday have changed manager. Jos Luhukay, a relative unknown in this country, succeeded Carlos Carvalhal last month.

Lees said: “It has been really difficult, to be honest, because when a new manager comes in you are desperate to be playing and showing him what you can do and I haven’t had that opportunity.

“I have been working pretty much all day every day with the physios. They have been great and put in 12 hour days alongside me to try and get me back as quick as possible.

“I’ve come back into training but obviously the team is going through a a little bit of a tough patch. We are playing a different formation and constantly looking at the shape.

“I’m just champing at the bit to get back out there.”

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