The big problems Harlee Dean has been brought in to fix at Sheffield Wednesday

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He’s a brute of a man, Harlee Dean.

Standing at six-foot-three, the Sheffield Wednesday new man has made a career from heading crosses away from danger, from taking ownership of situations and from showing the sort of leadership qualities many have suggested the Owls have been short of in recent seasons – particularly in defence.

Wednesday have a defence that has conceded 13 goals in four matches since Christmas, failing to keep a clean sheet along the way since back-to-back shutouts at Portsmouth and Crewe in early December.

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Patched-up, battered and bruised, those asked to play out of position and hold the fort have done so admirably, but it has felt a little as if they have run out of steam in more recent outings.

Darren Moore didn’t say so much at Oxford over the weekend, but his frustration with an absence of basic defending instinct was palpable. His suggestion was that there was a lack of responsibility there, that despite best efforts in training those tasked with clearing balls away had been found wanting in moments where it counted.

Wednesday have conceded 12 times from set pieces in the last six months. It’s a role and responsibility Dean, along with last week’s fellow Championship loan addition Jordan Storey, will want to make their own between now and the end of the season.

“It has not been one isolated person," said Moore when asked about his side’s shoddy efforts when defending dead ball situations this campaign.

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“Set plays are all about getting the first contact. We are not getting the first contact and ultimately we are giving teams opportunities.

Harlee Dean has been brought in to strengthen Sheffield Wednesday's defence.Harlee Dean has been brought in to strengthen Sheffield Wednesday's defence.
Harlee Dean has been brought in to strengthen Sheffield Wednesday's defence.

“We have to work on getting the first contact. If you get the first contact, potential goals don't happen and that is what we need.”

Achieving the first contact Moore speaks of is an attribute Dean has built a 434-game career on.

Across his entire career, as per respected statistics platform Wyscout, the 30-year-old has an aerial duel win percentage of 65.9%, a figure that puts him in the top 20 headers of a ball in League One this season and behind only Chey Dunkley (67.5%) in the entirety of the Owls squad.

There are issues to repair in the Wednesday defence. The hope is that Harlee Dean can be the man to fix them.