It has been a frustrating season for Vincent Sasso.
Since rejoining the Owls last August, the French defender has been mainly used as back-up by boss Carlos Carvalhal.
Sasso, brought in to provide cover and competition at centre-back, has had little game time since returning to England. With Tom Lees, Sam Hutchinson and Glenn Loovens excelling in his position for long periods of the campaign, Sasso has been forced to bide his time.
Carvalhal handed Sasso a rare chance to impress in Monday’s clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers. And Sasso was one of the few bright spots in another unconvincing display by Wednesday, helping Carvalhal’s side record a third clean sheet in their last five Championship outings.
He told The Star: “It has been frustrating as every player wants to play. I respect every decision made. Glenn and Tom have done well so I can’t really complain.
“I just have to keep working hard and be ready when called upon.”
Sasso was satisfied with his contribution in the Bank Holiday tussle and hopes it was the first of many appearances in 2017.
“I thought I did okay,” he said. “I did some things I was pleased with and some things I can do better.
“That comes with more minutes on the pitch and the more I can get, the better.”
Sasso almost marked his first start of the season with a goal. His powerful first half header was superbly tipped away by Carl Ikeme.
He joked: “I really wanted to score; maybe next time!”
Left-sided player Adam Reach was full of praise for his teammate, saying: “I though (Sasso) was brilliant and one of our best players.
“In this league, squad depth is important. Maybe we’ll bring some more in over this window to strengthen even more. The more competition we’ve got the better. Everyone is fighting for their place which is always good.
“It’s good for the manager if he does need fresh legs to know he can turn to his bench with confidence.”
The draw kept Wednesday in sixth position but the performance left a lot to be desired. The visitors dominated for long spells and created the better chances.
Sasso said: “It was a tough game. Wolves pressed us well and we didn’t play like we usually play. We were maybe a little tired. I don’t think we deserved to win but it was important not to lose. It could be a big point for us.”
The 25-year-old is urging the Owls, the 2016 play-off finalists, to keep on looking up rather than down.
“We want to finish in the best position possible but we know it is really difficult in this league,” he said. “We have to take it game by game if we are going to secure a play-off place.
“The games come thick and fast so we just have to stay focused. In this league, you can quickly win four or five games in a row.”
Both the Owls and Middlesbrough are likely to make several changes for Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie. Key men will be rested following the demanding New Year programme. The cup is not high on the agenda for either side.
Yet the competition gives fringe players an opportunity to stake their claim.
Sasso, who spent the whole of last season on loan at Hillsborough, making 19 appearances, said: “Hopefully I have done enough to keep my place for Middlesbrough. I just have to train hard and be ready when the manager calls upon me.”
Boro, hovering just above the drop zone in the Premier League, beat Wednesday on both occasions last term en route to securing the second automatic promotion spot behind Burnley.
“We’ve got time to recover for the cup game,” said ex-Braga defender Sasso. “It is a good match for us as Middlesbrough are a good team and we play really well against good teams as we showed against Newcastle.
“We always struggle against the smaller teams. I don’t know why. Maybe because they play harder and play more long balls. We have players in midfield and up front who have quality in [Barry] Bannan and Nando [Fernando Forestieri] who some teams try to kick and knock off their game. It is something we have to adapt to.”