This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to use the last international break of this year to refresh their minds ahead of a potential playoff push this campaign.
Upon their return, the Owls will be greeted with the tough test of league leaders West Bromwich Albion, who will be without two influential members of their squad as Romaine Sawyers and Jake Livermore endure one-game suspensions, so there won’t be a better time to face the Championship’s best.
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Garry Monk’s side currently occupy eighth spot, three points behind Bristol City in fifth, meaning a nice run of results will undoubtedly catapult them back into contention.
In reality, they should already be well up there having thrown away points late on in three of their previous five matches – epitomised last time out when Swansea City defender Ben Wilmot bagged in injury time, just three minutes after Wednesday thought they had won it with a Morgan Fox effort.
They can capitalise in the absence of Slaven Bilic’s key figures, but one man in Wednesday’s team is walking a tight rope himself.
German centre-back Julian Borner has been a fan-favourite this season, clinching August’s Player of the Month award, but he may soon face an enforced game out of the team as he has picked up four yellow cards this season.
The number of bookings doesn’t reset until the start of December, so the 28-year-old needs to be careful as he faces another three games before it gets wiped from his record.
Borner is a colossal part of Monk’s stern defence having won a total of 68 aerial duels this season, but if he does indeed pick up a suspension, his future spot in the backline may be in threat if his replacement impresses.
It only takes one game to sway the opinion of a manager – skipper Tom Lees has returned from injury and played alongside Dominic Iorfa last time out as the Owls’ number 13 was a surprise absentee against Swansea.
If Borner returns against the Baggies and picks up that fifth booking, he will give the duo another attempt at impressing and given calls to name a more consistent starting XI this week, Monk could well remain with that in the future.
Lees, despite only playing six matches this term, is averaging the most aerial duels won of any defender in the squad while Iorfa records more tackles per game than any other centre-back, per WhoScored.
Ultimately, Borner needs to keep his discipline in check for the next three matches to ensure that he doesn’t lose his starting spot.