What Garry Monk said about the derby performance of his new-look front four and his wealth of options going forward at Sheffield Wednesday
A collective air of excitement whistled through the Sheffield Wednesday fanbase as team news for Saturday’s derby at Barnsley hit social media.
Owls boss Garry Monk named new boy trio Alessio Da Cruz, Connor Wickham and Josh Windass in the side as well as the returning Fernando Forestieri, who made his first start since the end of November.
The Owls set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Wickham leading the line, and while the game did not deliver the attacking spectacle many Owls fans would have hoped for, it did perhaps hint at a new-look way forward in the coming months as Monk aims to re-shape the side’s fortunes.
Windass scored with his first shot in Owls colours but it was otherwise a stop-start day going forward for Wednesday, who unleashed only six shots in the match – half the number of their relegation-threatened hosts.
But any frustration in the final third was perhaps to be expected given the lack of match sharpness across the front line given the fact that the quartet had played just 64 minutes of English football between them in the past month.
Asked about the impact of his new players, Monk hinted at a need for patience: “Josh got his goal and that was great, but that whole front four is not at their full fitness.
“It was good to get them minutes and get them closer to where they need to be, you can see the quality that they have.
“As they get sharper and you see them get more minutes on the pitch, they’ll get better and better as well as the other lads as well.”
Forestieri, Da Cruz, Wickham and Windass each released only one shot at goal in the match – Tom Lees and Jacob Murphy offered the others.
Atdhe Nuhiu came off the bench for the final throes of the clash as did Murphy, with Kadeem Harris left watching from the bench. Adam Reach missed out with a knock, Monk said, with Sam Winnall and Jordan Rhodes also left out entirely.
With top scorer Steven Fletcher – the only player with more than four goals to hs name this season – expected back at the start of March, Monk has built a wealth of options in the final third.
Speaking ahead of the Barnsley clash, Monk had said on his new selection headache: “There are lots of games left and they come thick and fast.
“We’ll see how the train, see how the week goes, see how the previous game was, see what type of game it is we’ve got coming up.
“Then we’ll pick the team that suits that and can try to win that game. That’s the same in every single game.”
The Owls head to bottom-placed Luton Town on Wednesday hoping to reverse a run of form that has now seen them win only one match in their last eight league fixtures before matches against Reading and Birmingham City.