Jos Luhukay says Tom Lees is ready for a starting place after his return provided the only positive on a day of huge disappointment in Bristol.
The Owls’ 4-0 defeat extended Luhukay’s record of no league wins away from home since his arrival in Sheffield as Wednesday were swept aside by City at Ashton Gate.
With the visitors three goals down, Lees replaced the injured Daniel Pudil at the break and though the central defender was partly to blame for the concession of a penalty which made it 4-0, his return provides a huge boost to Luhukay’s threadbare squad.
Lees hadn’t played since the 2-2 draw with Ipswich in November after finally admitting defeat having suffered from an ongoing groin injury.
He recently made two appearances for the under-23s and finally came back to first team action for the second 45 minutes at Ashton Gate, much to Luhukay’s pleasure.
“We have a positive situation, not with the result but Tom Lees come back for the first time in a long time in the second half,” he said.
“I think for Tom it is very important he had a new feeling that he is back and I think he can give the team also his qualities. Maybe that is the positive we have.”
There will be no easing Lees back into the set-up, with it being likely the 27-year-old will start against Ipswich on Tuesday night at Hillsborough.
On Pudil, Luhukay said: “At the begining of the game, he injured his ankle. He has problems with it. I cannot say yet (if he will play against Ipswich). Maybe on Monday we will see if on Tuesday Daniel can be an option.”
Lees’ return, in that case, is timely and Luhukay is not concerned about putting the club’s vice-captain in from the beginning against Mick McCarthy’s men.
“Tom has worked hard in the last weeks and months,” the Owls boss added.
“Before he came back, he trained a lot and played twice with the under-23s.
“This is the next step, I am happy and he is happy he can come back and help the team. He is ready to start. Daniel was injured at half-time. If Tom wasn’t ready we wouldn’t have had him in the 18.”
Wednesday stayed in 17th place in the Championship following the defeat, though Reading immediately beneath them by three points, have played a game less. The Royals are at home to 19th-placed Bolton on Tuesday.