Sheffield Wednesday: Why the disappointment of 2017/18 could work in Owls' favour

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The play-off pain of last season could be a blessing in disguise as Sheffield Wednesday look to re-ignite their Premier League hopes in the 2018/19 campaign.

The Owls made a poor start 12 months ago and then an injury crisis meant they were never in contention to crack the Championship top six for a third successive year.

Tom Lees

Tom Lees

However, centre-half Tom Lees believes Wednesday will be better prepared when the new season kicks off next month because their midtable finish allowed them to have a proper break for the first time since 2015.

"In previous seasons, we've had to try and cram a little bit of rest in after the play-offs," Lees said.

"Maybe then you don't get enough time to do all things you want to do to prepare for the new season."

The Owls 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons ran well into May as they reached the play-off final and lost to Hull City before, a year later, going out in the two-legged semi-finals in a Hillsborough penalty shoot-out against Huddersfield Town.

Lees was one of a number of key men who missed a large chunk of last season, a groin injury suffered in November keeping him out for more than three months.

But he and fellow injury victims goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, midfielders Sam Hutchinson, Barry Bannan and Kieran Lee and forwards Fernando Forestieri, Steven Fletcher and Gary Hooper are all fit again ahead of the August 4 Championship opening-day clash at Wigan Athletic.

"This pre-season, everyone has had ample opportunity to get their rest in and also do the training and work on stuff so they come back ready and sharp," Lees said.

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