Written off, armband gone – The stats behind Tom Lees’ Sheffield Wednesday resurgence

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When Tom Lees’ lost the Sheffield Wednesday captaincy, he said he didn’t want it to define his time at the club – months later he’s making sure that isn’t the case.

“I can either let what’s happened be the story of me and my career, be the player that had the captaincy taken off him and never recovered, and that’s the way his career petered out.

“Or I can be the player that came back from it, and show people why I have done what I have done in my career, why I have played so many games, and why I was captain.”

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That’s what he said after Garry Monk decided to give the armband to Barry Bannan, and the 30-year-old has been true to his word, getting back to the Tom Lees of old that some fans weren’t sure they’d see again.

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It’s not been an easy ride for the defender, who’s dealt with injury, been suspended and also welcomed a new addition to his family in recent months, but his form has seen a tremendous upturn that stretches back to the restart after the lockdown, really.

At this point, there’s not a single player in the Championship averaging more clearances per game than Lees (6), and he’s made more interceptions (29) and shot blocks (13) than any other Wednesday player.

The amount of blocks he’s made on average in 2020/21 is the highest it’s been since his debut campaign with the Owls in 2014/15, and his interceptions average the highest since 2015/16.

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Sheffield Wednesday's Tom Lees is enjoying a resurgence at the club.Sheffield Wednesday's Tom Lees is enjoying a resurgence at the club.
Sheffield Wednesday's Tom Lees is enjoying a resurgence at the club.

It’s also worth noting that he’s only been dribbled past on three occasions so far this season – a record bettered by only two centre backs in the division who’ve played 17 games or more, and his record of three unsuccessful touches and being dispossessed just once is among the best in the league when compared to the same group.

The defender has never contributed to more than four goals in a league campaign (two goals, two assists in 2018/19 and three goals, one assist in 2015/16), but has already got a goal and an assist to his name this time out and will be eager to change that.

It had been said that Lees would benefit from having somebody vocal alongside him and while his upturn in form started quite a while ago, the early signs from his partnership with the very loud Chey Dunkley are incredibly promising.

And Neil Thompson, the man tasked with taking on the Wednesday job in the short-term as they find Tony Pulis’ successor, knows what he’s all about. He’s known him a long time.

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He told The Star recently, “When I was academy manager at Leeds, Tom was a 14/15 year-old… He’s a consummate professional in everything that he does.

“He’s a credit to his profession. He’s incredibly professional - every player has bad spells, but it’s the mark of a man and mark of a character to come through it. And Tom’s done that.”

His return to form has seen him offered a new contract at Hillsborough, the length of which is not known, but fans will be hoping to see him put pen to paper and keep up the levels that have seen him become an important piece of the Wednesday machine once again.

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