General view inside Hillsborough ahead of Sheffield Wednesday v Wigan Athletic
Championship

Sheffield Wednesday TT Roundup: Massimo Luongo withdraws with knee injury, Tom Lees nears return and Adam Reach tipped for better form

In this instalment of our TT Roundup, Football Transfer Tavern have gathered three of the biggest stories to have involved Sheffield Wednesday recently and have provided our thoughts on the reports published.

Wigan Athletic's Jamal Lowe in action with Sheffield Wednesday's Massimo Luongo

Massimo Luongo out of international duty

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Massimo Luongo has withdrawn from the Australia squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Jordan and Kuwait citing a minor knee issue, according to the Yorkshire Post.

The 27-year-old scored his maiden goal for the Owls against Wigan Athletic on Saturday as Garry Monk recorded his second win since taking charge of the Hillsborough natives, but has decided against joining his Socceroos teammates after managing the issue through the last few weeks.

Luongo’s knee issue reappeared during the Latics affair at the weekend, and it was decided best for the midfielder to remain in England to avoid the risk of further aggravation following discussions with Australia’s coaching and medical staff.

Verdict

Sheffield Wednesday will be glad to hear that Luongo opted against travelling vast miles to represent his country while knowing he was carrying an injury, as the Sydney native’s start against Wigan was the first of his league term since joining from QPR (WhoScored), and Monk will be hoping he does not have to wait long to add to that tally.

As well as scoring against the Latics, Luongo also showed why the Owls moved to sign him in the summer, as only Barry Bannan (64) enjoyed significantly more touches than the 27-year-old recorded (45) before leaving the field on Saturday.

Luongo also won three aerial duels, one tackle and used his touches to good effect with one key ball from 23 accurate passes and struck more shots (2) than striker Steven Fletcher (1).

Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk

Monk confident of Tom Lees’ return

Owls boss Monk is confident that captain Tom Lees, midfielder Sam Hutchinson and forward Fernando Forestieri will all be available for selection when the South Yorkshire side face Cardiff City in their next game after the international break.

Neither Lees nor Forestieri have yet featured under Monk, with the Owls captain last lacing up his boots in August (TransferMarkt) when he made his fifth and final outing of the term across all competitions thus far. Forestieri has likewise not featured since August, having made his first and only start of the second-tier season against QPR on matchday six.

Monk is confident that he will have each to call on against Cardiff on October 18, and has told The Star that Lees was not rushed back so that a greater issue was not created.

“With Tom, as eager as he is to come back, we have erred on the side of caution because there is no point in risking him to reset him again for a longer period,” Monk said.

“He possibly could have pushed to comeback for Wigan but I didn’t want to rush him and lose him again. He is an important player for us so we didn’t need to take that risk.”

Verdict

Monk certainly made the right decision in not rushing Lees back into the fold at Hillsborough, as he would only have lived to regret it had he brought the defender back too soon and seen him ruled out for a longer stretch of the campaign.

Lees’ final outing of the term thus far showed how important he can be having won 11 aerial duels against Preston North End (WhoScored), while his efforts against Reading helped to a 3-1 win when he recorded 11 clearances.

Hutchinson’s return will also be a big boost for Monk, as the 30-year-old had been enjoying a solid campaign with a pass accuracy rating above 90% in three games, as well as vast defensive support with five tackles against Fulham, four at Huddersfield and four interceptions against Millwall plus five at home to Barnsley.

Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Reach in action with Hull City's Brandon Fleming

Best is yet to come from Adam Reach

Football writer and Sheffield Sports Commentaries’ Sheffield Wednesday reporter George Smith has told The Athletic that the best is yet to come from Adam Reach, after the 26-year-old scored just once in ten Championship starts (WhoScored) going into the international break.

Reach had to wait until facing Middlesbrough in late September to mark his first goal of the term, having spurned three chances against Fulham, four at Huddersfield Town and various efforts against QPR, Millwall, Barnsley and Reading.

The Boro clash also saw Reach pen his second of three assists with the cross for Fletcher’s goal, and Smith has claimed: “I don’t think we’ve seen the very best of Adam Reach yet this season.

“On the whole, his performances have been inconsistent. His performance against (boyhood club) Middlesbrough, who he seems to get a kick out of scoring against, could act as the catalyst he needs to ignite his season.

“It was a superb goal which ended a 19-game goal drought, and he bagged an assist as well for Steven Fletcher. Hopefully, it is a turning point.”

Verdict

The season has certainly not been the best so far for Reach, with the 26-year-old spurning many chances to open his account before finally doing so in Sheffield Wednesday’s 4-1 win away to Middlesbrough.

His side’s victory at the Riverside Stadium did not appear to be a spark to better things, though, as he followed that display with a challenging evening at Hull City, where he penned just a 63.6% pass accuracy rating and his joint-most shots in a single fixture with four (WhoScored).

One positive area where the Chester-Le-Street-born winger has been influential in is chance creation, having played at least one key ball in all bar four second-tier encounters thus far.

Monk will be hoping that more of the chances Reach creates are put to bed by the rest of his side, while wanting to see the Boro product do more with the chances he fashions for himself going forward.

Sheffield Wednesday fans, would you start Hutchinson, Lees and Forestieri against Cardiff? Let us know in the comments below…

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Sheffield Wednesday TT Roundup: Massimo Luongo withdraws with knee injury, Tom Lees nears return and Adam Reach tipped for better form
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