“Left back? Are you ok?” – Joost van Aken on Tony Pulis' defensive shift at Sheffield Wednesday
Tony Pulis playing central defenders as full backs is nothing new, but Joost van Aken has admitted that he was surprised to be playing there for Sheffield Wednesday last year.
Pulis went on record saying that he didn’t feel like the club had any real left backs available ahead of the January transfer window, with Van Aken being asked to deputise in that position while others played in the heart of defence.
The Dutchman put in some decent performances in the position, but he admits that he was shocked to find out that he would be playing out wide – even if he was prepared to put in the work.
Speaking to The Athletic, JvA said, “It was one of the first or second sessions with Tony Pulis and he said to me, ‘Okay we’re going to do some tactical sessions and focus on left-back’. I thought, ‘Left back? Are you okay?’ I said I’d try to do it as best I could and if he wanted anything different from me I’d keep it in my mind.
“I made my debut in Holland as a left-back but I played just a few games there before moving to centre-back. It surprised me, but it helps me develop the fundamentals of the game.”
The 26-year-old will see his contract at Hillsborough expire at the end of the current season, and he’ll be looking to finish the campaign on a high as he seeks to secure himself a new deal beyond the 2020/21 campaign.
Van Aken hasn’t played for the Owls yet this year, but could be back to face Everton in the FA Cup this weekend.