Sheffield Wednesday: How Massimo Luongo plans to make sure he’s a regular in Owls midfield

The competition for a spot in the Owls' midfield engine room is as fierce as it has been in a long time.

By Dom Howson
Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 5:24 pm

These days Wednesday have genuine quality and strength in depth in the centre, with five players competing for places in Garry Monk's starting XI.

Stand-in skipper Barry Bannan, Sam Hutchinson, Massimo Luongo, Kieran Lee and Joey Pelupessy all boast a wealth of experience at Championship level.

Monk has largely employed a 4-4-2 formation since taking over the reins at Hillsborough and his preferred pairing in the middle of the park has been Bannan and Hutchinson.

Australian international Massimo Luongo

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But holding midfielder Hutchinson served a one-match suspension against Wigan Athletic last weekend after picking up five yellow cards and Monk sprung a surprise by switching to a 4-1-4-1 system.

Monk handed first Championship starts to Luongo, a £1m summer recruit from Queens Park Rangers, and Joey Pelupessy. He was delighted with the duo's contribution in Wednesday's hard-earned win, describing Luongo and Pelupessy's performances as "excellent".

Pelupessy screened the back four, offering an extra layer of protection to the defence, and Luongo capped an energetic display by bagging a 57th minute winner.

Luongo, who has pulled out of international duty with a minor knee problem, told The Star: "I am buzzing that I got on the scoresheet. I have not been part of the team as much as I thought I would have been when I signed."It gives the manager a headache now for the next game and that’s all I want to do.

"All I want to do is give him a problem with the starting line-up.

"I am 27-years-old and I have been playing for a long time in the Championship and all I want to do is help Sheffield Wednesday go as far as we can."

Luongo has been restricted to just three starts in all competitions since joining the Owls at the end of August. His five other outings have come from off the bench.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Swindon Town player said: "I knew coming into the team, especially signing on deadline day, that I would have to be patient.

"The team had already started the season and I am away with the international team a lot, which doesn't help.

"It’s a new team, new players and nobody really knows me. I haven't got a relationship with the players on the pitch that comes after years.

"You look at the way Barry [Bannan] and Fletch [Steven Fletcher] combine; they have been playing together for years.

"That will come, I just need to be around it more and the only way to do that is to keep performing well and hopefully keep winning."

Asked if he has found his lack of opportunities frustrating, Luongo said: "No, not really.

"I want to play as much as I can but, ultimately, if I’m not playing I need to push the guys who are as much as I can.

"We do have boys in my position who are in there 30s like Kieran Lee and Hutch and they have had injuries in the past so I know when they are not fit I need to come in and take my opportunity."