Sheffield Wednesday: Lack of wins against top five doesn't bother Tom Lees
Victory at Derby County this afternoon will effectively seal Sheffield Wednesday's place in the play-offs with two games to go.
Superior goal difference over seventh placed Cardiff City means it would take a catastrophic final fortnight for Wednesday to miss out on the top six.
Winning at the iPro Stadium is no mean feat of course. Only three sides have taken all three points away there all season.
And then there is Wednesday’s less than imposing record against their top six rivals.
Performances in the vast majority of clashes have been very good. And in the nine games they have played against the five sides above them, they have lost just three.
But they have yet to pick up a victory, with Derby being their last opportunity to do so in the regular season. And they have scored only four goals in those nine games.
As they look to prevent a nervy final two weeks of the season, getting the victory against a Derby side they could still overtake in the table would require a change in fortunes for the Owls.
And they will have to start picking up wins if they are to make it through the play-offs.
But Tom Lees says the lack of wins over the Championship’s top five is not a great deal of concern for the Wednesday squad.
“I don’t think it’s too much of an issue for the guys in the changing room,” he said. “We have played well against some of the teams who are above us.
“It’s those fine margins on those games.
“They are so tight and we have drawn a lot of those games and that will be the difference in the play-offs.
“Can we turn those draws into wins?
“We have to focus on our own form.”
Promotion was not necessarily the goal at the start of a season of major change for Wednesday.
Last summer marked the real start of Dejphon Chansiri era, seeing the arrival of Carlos Carvalhal and an influx of players.
Progression may have been the order of the day but Lees says Wednesday will not be in the play-offs just to make up the numbers.
He said: “We don’t just want to get in the play-offs - we want to win them.
“The play-offs aren’t really anything if you are still in the same league next season.
“We will give it all we’ve got.
“We will get the most out of what we have got from now until the end of the season.
“We’ll have to see where that gets us.”
Lees believes today’s hosts Derby have underachieved this season given their star-studded squad but says their recent run of five wins from six shows how dangerous they can be.
The centre half is expecting a raucous atmosphere at the iPro this afternoon and says Wednesday must look to quieten the crowd as quickly as possible.
“It’s important,” Lees said. “When you play, you are not too focused on the crowd.
“We will be looking to stamp our authority on the game and get it going the way we want to go.
“They are in good form so will be full of confidence.
“I’m sure they will start fast.
“Derby is always a difficult place to go.
“With the form that they are in, I’m sure there will be a good atmosphere.
“But we are a good team and confident in our own abilities.
“Derby are one of the strongest squads in the division.
“They were underachieving in the first part of the season and now they have suddenly hit a bit of form at the right time.
“They have got some impressive results. They have got some good players but so have we.
“It will be a top Championship quality affair.”