Sheffield Wednesday's players given Christmas Day off

The festive period could potentially be season-defining for the Owls.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 4:00 pm
Owls boss Garry Monk with Barry Bannan. Pic Steve Ellis

Third-placed Wednesday head to lowly Stoke City on Boxing Day before a home double-header with Cardiff City and Hull City, a run of three matches in seven days that will test the strength in depth of their squad.

It is a demanding schedule so perhaps unsurprisingly boss Garry Monk has given his players Christmas Day off to relax with their families.

Ex-defender Monk, whose team trained on Christmas Eve, told The Star: "I sat with the group about a month ago and we worked out a plan and a schedule that we think can benefit them.

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"They talked about having Christmas Day off over the last four seasons and they have done reasonably well on Boxing Day.

"You have to use different ways at this time of year.

"I have been in every Christmas Day for 24 years but each group is different. You need to work with them and understand if it can get them to a better feeling and fresher place.

“I like to work on trust. You treat them (the players) like adults. The only time that changes is if they show you any different.

"All the detail and preparation will be done going into the game."

Stoke slipped to the bottom of the Championship after Wigan Athletic's draw at Blackburn Rovers on Monday night. They have won only once in their last six league outings, (W1 D1 L4), losing last time out, despite taking the lead against Middlesbrough.

Monk said: "We know they have a quality squad. They have international players and quality players at this level.

"You can see the tweaks he [Stoke boss Michael O'Neill] has made and we are trying to prepare for that but the main thing is what we do.

"We concentrate on what we do. We respect their strengths and will try to nullify them. We have to impose ourselves as best as we can.

“They will have periods where they will be on top and we will have to defend well but there will be periods where we know we can get ourselves on top and we have to be ruthless and clinical in those moments.”