Caretaker previews visit of the table toppers
Mark Lillis has named goalkeeper Alex Smithies as Captain for the Cardiff game on Saturday in place of the injured Peter Clarke.
Clarke – who suffered concussion against Derby – will miss the clash with the Bluebirds and Lillis has chosen Smithies to lead the team.
“Peter Clarke went to hospital after suffering his head injury,” said Mark. “He wants to play, but when you have suffered concussion you have to have two weeks total rest; as a result, I will be without my captain.
“After a bit of consideration, I decided to call Alex Smithies in to my office and hand him the captaincy. He deserves it; he is 22 years of age and he is a local lad who is a very good communicator.
“He came through the Academy at the Club and if you look at some of his performances over the past six months, they have been very good. He is a talker and his reaction when I told him was very good; I think he was a bit surprised when I hugged him, I think he thought I was going to give him a kiss! This experience will help his career down the line.”
Alex will lead Town into arguably their toughest test of the season against Malky Mackay’s Cardiff City.
“It is a very, very big challenge against the top of the league who have a very good manager,” said Lillis.
“These sorts of matches are fantastic games to play in and we are relishing the challenge. Hopefully we will have a good few fans in tomorrow and they will play a massive part. I am looking forward to it and it will be an honour to lead out the team against Cardiff.
“They are a fantastic side, but we have got to focus on ourselves and not be afraid them. We have to respect them because of where they are in the league, but we need to try and go at their weaknesses. There aren’t many, but if the players can suss a few out then we might have a chance.
“They are very organised and functional. They work well as a unit and are well drilled. A lot of their goals come from set-pieces and they don’t concede many from them. If you look at somebody like Craig Bellamy whose work ethic for his age is fantastic and he is leading them; he is a winner. They have a lot of winners in their side and they are very consistent.”
The Terriers have performed well on home soil under Lillis so far, recording a draw against Leicester in the Cup and victory over Crystal Palace in the league.
“I want the players to be brave on the ball and believe in their abilities,” Mark told htafc.com. “If they can take what they have shown in training over the last week on to the field on Saturday then we have a good chance. We need to give the players an environment which has discipline and warmth. The players took what they had done in training into the Leicester and Palace games and we need to do the same again on Saturday.”
Town’s injury list continues to grow with Clarke and Lee Novak joining the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Keith Southern.
“We suffered quite few injuries at Derby and we have had a little bit of bad luck on that front. You have to stand up to adversity and we have a squad of players who all have a role to play. We have got some good professionals here who haven’t been involved lately, but there will be changes made on Saturday and those players have an opportunity to impress.
“Lee Novak has been in a boot for the past week following his foot injury and will also miss out; so I am missing two big players who have strength and commitment. You have to take that in football and hopefully the lads that come in, will play well.”
As Town’s search for a new manager continues, Mark told htafc.com that his focus is on the team.
“My job is to keep going with what I am doing,” he said. “The recruitment of the new manager is a process that I have no involvement with. There are points to play for and as players, staff and fans we can’t spend too much time thinking about the situation. Everyone loved the feeling after the Crystal Palace match and I want more of that; I want to put points on the board for the Club.”