Sheffield Wednesday: What Tom Lees makes of his fitness as the Owls look to opening day

Tom Lees in pre-season training
Tom Lees in pre-season training
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Key man Tom Lees has handed Sheffield Wednesday a boost as they gear up for the new Championship campaign by declaring he's never felt in better shape.

The centre-half missed a three-month chunk of last season with a groin injury before returning in March to produce his usual commanding form.

Tom Lees in action last season

Tom Lees in action last season

And the 27-year-old, who has been a cornerstone of the Owls defence for the last four years, is raring to go on August 4 opening day at Wigan Athletic.

"I feel fit and healthy. I feel as good as I have ever done," he said.

"I finished last season off fit, so I was happy with that, and I have worked really hard to come back as fit as I can. I'm enjoying being back in training."

Lees, a 2014 signing from Leeds United, has tinkered with his regime to maximise his chances of avoiding problems in the future.

"Now, from what I have learned before, I'm just trying to change little things to try and keep healthy," he said.

"I've always been pretty strict with myself, to be fair, and stayed in good shape, but maybe it is just about doing the right things at the right time - not trying to do too much and obviously doing the exercises to keep on top of any little niggles you might have."

Lees was absent for six weeks in 2016/17 and for two months a year earlier, but generally has a good fitness record.

He made 48 appearances in his first season after his switch from Elland Road and has followed that up with 42, 38 and 31.

"When I have been fit, I have played regularly," he said. "It is just a case of maybe being clever around that Christmas period. It always seems to be around that time when I pick up a little niggle.

"Sometimes it can come down to luck. There are things you can't control. But everything I can control to avoid getting injured, I will do."

Lees played the first half as Wednesday opened their pre-season schedule with a 1-0 win at Lincoln City on July 13 and is in line for another run-out when boss Jos Luhukay takes his squad to Mansfield Town this Tuesday.

The defender was part of a devastating injury list last term and is banking on the methods of Luhukay, who took over from Carlos Carvalhal in January, to avoid a repeat as the Owls look to re-establish themselves as play-off contenders.

"I think a big factor in us not getting so many injuries is us having a good pre-season under our belts," Lees said.

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