Why Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk thinks his side are 'underdogs' in the Championship promotion battle
Owls manager Garry Monk has claimed his side are the "underdogs" in the Championship promotion race.
Wednesday head into the hectic busy Christmas period in good shape after winning four of their last five matches.
Monk's men travel to Stoke City on Boxing Day lying in third position at the halfway stage of the campaign, eight points adrift of the automatic promotion spots, and bidding to extend their unbeaten league run to seven matches.
Monk, who hopes 12-goal top-scorer Steven Fletcher (illness) will return to action at Stoke, told The Star: “I think we have the underdog mentality.
“I think realistically did anyone expect us to be where we are?
“No. Maybe the hardest nose fan always believed we would be.
"I feel like we are the underdogs and we have to fight with that underdogs mentality no matter what.
"I think they (the players) have shown that type attitude in every game that we have had and I think has grown more as things have gone on.
"We need to keep trying to grow that.
“Even if we get a setback, we have to come back strong.
“I want them to keep fighting for the shirt and to try and impose ourselves on the pitch.
“We have got a long way to go. We are not perfect by any means.
“We definitely know we can be in positions to win games and we will try to improve things as we go along."
Wednesday have not dined at the top table of English football since 2000.
“Everyone's ambition is to get back to the Premier League,” said Monk, who has Sam Hutchinson back in the squad following a two-match suspension.
"Of course, I am not stupid; I know where we are in the league and I am aware of it.
"It shows we are doing something right and what we are working on is winning games.
"I am very pleased with the players and what they have taken on to the pitch in every single game.”
Wednesday have triumphed on their last five league outings on December 26, and haven't conceded a goal in any of their last seven matches played on that day.