Sheffield Wednesday vs Millwall preview: Faltering Owls seeking redemption in playoff showdown 
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18: A general view of Hillsborough, home of Sheffield Wednesday during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers at Hillsborough Stadium on January 18, 2020 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Lee Parker - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Garry Monk has never been one to pull his punches.

It's been a trademark of the 40-year-old's career in management, and his reaction to Sheffield Wednesday's 2-1 defeat against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday epitomized his frank, unfiltered nature.

"I just feel embarrassment," Monk told The Yorkshire Post. 

"The ones that can do it and can fight and will fight for their futures every day at the football club, they need to be here. The ones that can’t, need to go. That’s the way it needs to be."

Such harsh words are bound to send ripples through the dressing room, and can go one of two ways. Either the players become galvanized, or deflated. Only when Gary Rowett's diligent Millwall outfit make the trip to Hillsborough on Saturday in a season-defining playoff showdown will all become clear.

Team news

The hosts were dealt a huge injury blow this week with defender Morgan Fox hobbling off the pitch after sustaining an ankle injury in the 2-1 defeat to Wigan. Fox will be assessed prior to Saturday's clash.

Liam Palmer, Fernando Forestieri and Sam Hutchinson will all be available for selection, however. Massimo Luongo is the only definite absentee.

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Millwall will be without Frank Fielding and Ben Thompson (ankle), with Ryan Leonard not far away from a return to full fitness. Shaun Williams will also return from suspension, and Rowett is likely to hand a debut to loanee Mason Bennet.

Rowett's Millwall vision

To attempt to rewrite the identity of a club is to tread into difficult territory when that club is Millwall, a club unlike no other in its attachment to a specific style of football. In Rowett, it takes one brave man to go about changing that.

Rowett has overseen a significant upturn in results since his arrival in December, transforming Millwall from relegation battlers to credible playoff contenders.

At first, it was a case of ensuring the simple things were being done right. Instilling a fearsome work-ethic, reviving the camaraderie within the dressing room and liberating the mercurial talent Jed Wallace were all priorities of Rowett's. Direct, physical, and ruthless: it was a typical Millwall side.

Since then, though, the changes have been a little more subtle.

While Millwall remain a threat from set-pieces and still boast an imposing physical prowess, there has been a marked attempt from Rowett to experiment with a more ambitious style of football at The Den, with Millwall looking increasingly competent at passing their way through the lines via the likes of Jayson Molumby. It's a methodology far removed from the direct, hopeful days of Neil Harris.

With the style alterations coinciding with positive results, there have been few qualms from traditionalist supporters. Millwall are perched in ninth, and were 17th when Rowett took over. It is not unfeasible that they will sneak into that final playoff spot, and what an achievement it would be.

However, there will be no rush. Rowett is building this Millwall side for the long-term, recoding the DNA of a unique club that has been deprived of mainstream football for far too long.

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What has gone wrong for Wednesday?

Many will dismiss Monk's post-Wigan comments as a reckless outburst of fury, however it is important to note that this is not the first time light has been shed upon the lack of character in this Wednesday squad.

Criticism has been rife for Monk's men over the past month, and rightly so, with a demise in the league table amplifying the underlying doubts. A 5-0 capitulation at home to Blackburn Rovers and the midweek loss away at 22nd-placed Wigan Athletic has seen Wednesday's stronghold on a playoff spot weaken considerably.

In truth, though, it has never been Monk's team, even when all was rosy and Wednesday were storming their way up the table, dishing out trouncings of their own against the likes of Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough. The Owls boss was not afforded the luxury of a transfer window upon his arrival at Hillsborough, and it has shown. This is no archetypal Monk side.

Work-ethic and a stiff upper lip are commodities Monk values very highly, but - with the Wednesday manager seemingly discontent with the attitude of the current crop of players at his disposal - are qualities that may take some time for Monk to instill into the dressing room. 

Partner that with the club's reluctance to integrate young players, and it becomes crystal clear that there are glaring issues with this historic football club. Monk will do all he can to ensure a seismic shift in mentality, though, as is the case with Rowett, it appears to be more of a long-term project than a quick fix.

What the managers have said 

Monk has offered a more level-headed overview prior to Saturday's clash, explaining to the Wednesday media the need to react and prove a point.

"I'm still annoyed but it's important to look ahead. Football always gives you the chance to react," said Monk.

"It's been a frustrating month, a lot of reflection but tomorrow is another chance."

He continued: "Our job is to put ourselves on a run of games, picking up points and I want the players to show that fight and character. It's up to us to give something for the fans to get behind."

Rowett's men succumbed to a painful defeat of their own in midweek, throwing away a 0-2 away lead against their bitter rivals, Leeds United. The Millwall manager has remained upbeat, however, citing the Lions' impressive away record as great cause for optimism. He told the Millwall media: "We've gone to places before and got results - we did it at Swansea, we did it at Bristol, we got a point at Birmingham and at Stoke and beat Derby.

"This month is a challenge and it's about whether we can rise to it. We're certainly going to try."

He added: "Even on Tuesday, you saw a team trying - we certainly won't leave any lack of effort out there."

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