In the stormy sea of constant change that is Carlos Carvalhal’s Sheffield Wednesday, Tom Lees has been the immovable rock.
The centre half has played every minute of all 11 games so far this season. He was the only player to keep his place against Newcastle United on Wednesday as Carvalhal made ten changes – and responded with a man of the match performance.
Marco Matias is the next leading appearance maker with ten, but that includes just seven starts, only three of which resulted in full 90 minutes.
Carvalhal has stuck by his policy of rotating his squad over his first few months in charge of the Owls.
But within that, Lees has been his constant – something which shows no sign of changing.
“I’m just happy to be playing,” the 24-year-old said.
“I’m happy the manager wants to pick me every week and hopefully that can continue.
“I’d rather it be like that than the other way round.
“I can only try to keep playing well and look after myself.
“I’ve had to do that with playing all these games. Really looking after myself between games and managing my recovery.”
Consistent changes go against the norm when it comes to defences. Most managers appear keen to find a ‘settled defensive line.’
Lees has formed three different centre half pairings across the 11 matches.
On only three occasions has he played in a back four which has been used previously this season. And when the goalkeeper is included, only once has a same back five been used across two different games.
Lees, however, remains unfazed and puts that down to the quality of his defensive colleagues.
“Last season, I think me and Glenn [Loovens] played the majority of the games last season,” he said.
“There’s been a bit of change this time.
“But I find that Glenn and [Michael] Turner are quite similar.
“They’re both experienced players who’ve been around the block a few times.
“It’s really nice for me to be able to look left and know what they’re going to do nine times out of ten and know where they’re going to be.
“It’s just nice to have someone solid and who talks next to you.
“The full backs have done well also. The two that played at Newcastle came in and did very well.
“That’s fierce competition because the two that played against Fulham on Saturday are top players.
“We’ve got four top full backs.”
Though Lees being left out of a starting XI would deliver the biggest shock of the season for the Owls, he is refusing to rest easy with his position.
He said: “You know that every week you have to be at your best or you won’t play the next week.
“It makes it all more competitive and it’s bringing the best out of the players.
“We’ve got a good squad and it’s not just with quantity, it’s quality now as well.
“The manager has said if he does put you out of the team, it’s about how you react.
“If that happens, I’ll have to make sure I’m working hard in the right manner to get back in.”
It would be a surprise if Lees does not retain his place for a 12th consecutive game at Brentford this weekend.
After the high of the Capital One Cup victory at Newcastle and the fourth round draw pitting them against Arsenal, the Owls will be brought back down to earth with the return to Championship action on Saturday.
After just two wins from the opening eight league matches, Lees says it is time to start picking up three points consistently.
But he also insists Wednesday’s string of results have not been as bad as they may appear.
He said: “I think we do need to move up the table because we haven’t picked up enough wins.
“We’ve only lost to good sides but we want to be challenging at the top so we want to be getting good results against them.
“We’ve had a tough opening with the fixtures. We’ve picked up some points against teams who’ve gone on and made you think it wasn’t a bad point.
“You look at the likes of Reading at home and people probably questioned that draw.
“There was the disappointment of not winning at home which we obviously want to do, but with the way they’ve kicked on you look and think now, at least we didn’t lose it.
“But we do need to start winning to get us moving up the table.”
Though Wednesday turned in a superb performance against Premier League Newcastle in midweek, Lees is warning Saturday’s trip to Griffin Park will be a different prospect.
He said: “Wednesday night was a totally different game to what we’ll get on Saturday.
“It was slower in the build-up at Newcastle and quicker in the final third.
“We know on Saturday it’ll be back to what we’re used to.
“It’s important now we do try to put some results together.”