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MARK RELISHING LOCAL DERBY

21 February 2014

Robins previews Sheffield Wednesday fixture

Huddersfield Town Manager Mark Robins wants his side to use the momentum of last weekend’s win when Sheffield Wednesday arrive at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Town fully warranted the 2-1 win at Birmingham City last weekend and, in general, the Manager has been happy with the performances from his side.

“Any win in the Championship is hard fought and last Saturday was no different; I thought we played really well,” Mark told htafc.com.

“We came into the game on the back of the Wigan win and the not so good performance against Forest, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – Forest is a top team in this division. I still think we should have given a better account of ourselves, but we have to remember how far we have come in a very short space of time. 

“The next step is a mental one – to try and beat teams like Forest on a more consistent basis. 

“We’ve still picked up six points from a possible nine, which is fairly healthy.” 

The Owls are a much-changed side since the Terriers won 2-1 at Hillsborough back in November, with a new Manager at the helm in Stuart Gray. 

Mark continued: “It’s a local derby. I played at Sheffield Wednesday and I know what a big, well supported club it can be.

“I’ve got to talk about Stuart Gray and where he took the team from, because they looked nailed-on to be down at the bottom of the League for a large part of the season. Stuart has taken them to safety and, if they beat Charlton in the FA Cup on Monday, they get a mouth-watering Sheffield derby that could take them to the final stages of the competition. Having two games in such a short period of time is difficult for them. 

“This weekend will be a different proposition to the one we faced at Hillsborough. They have different faces in the team. I watched them on Tuesday night against Derby and it was a very evenly contested game, apart from a moment of brilliance from Patrick Bamford. Sheffield Wednesday put in a good, strong performance that has more confidence compared to when we last played them.

“We’re looking forward to the game. It represents the chance to go and get one over on a local rival. It’s an interesting weekend ahead.” 

Robins explained that he will be without the services of top scorer James Vaughan this weekend due to the calf injury the striker sustained in the last home game against Nottingham Forest. 

“Vaughany has a tear in his calf and he will probably be out for another three weeks. He might be quicker than that; it depends on how he heals.

“He’s disappointed because he’s not been able to get a run of games. Since he was sent off at Leicester it’s been really intermittent for him after an unbelievable start to the season, but he can still have an unbelievable end to the season. We have to make sure that he comes back fit and he knows that he has to work hard at his rehabilitation. 



“On the plus side Danny Ward is playing out of his skin, performing really well within the team. Nahki is feeding off that and wants to be amongst the goals; his presence puts teams under pressure. Martin Paterson is back chomping at the bit to make a contribution, so to have James fit as well would be a big boost.” 

Another player that Town fans are anxious to see after his impressive cameo at Leeds United is January recruit Joe Lolley, but Robins explained that Joe – who has risen eight divisions in the last 18 months – is working hard behind the scenes.

“I spoke with Joe yesterday, as I do on a regular basis, and he’s keen to work and improve in certain areas, such as strength and conditioning. We knew that was the case when we signed him. He’s working hard and getting to grips with the professional game. 

“He’s had to change his mentality and he’s found it difficult, but as I said he’s working hard and there’s been an improvement over a relatively short period of time. We have to be mindful of the fact that his workload has increased a lot and we can’t push him too much, because it will result in an injury.

“I know the supporters will want to see him – I’m the same! I have to try and put the reins on while he gets used to our shape, but he is a player that I’m not frightened to throw in. 

“I always use the players with winning a game in mind; sentimentality can’t come into it. I want the supporters to see what we’ve brought in, but there’s plenty of time for that. When they see him, they’ll be excited.”



One player that Mark cannot select this weekend is exciting youngster Duane Holmes, who has gone on loan to fellow Championship side Yeovil Town for a month.

“He’s not playing here and for his development it is better for him to go and play some games. The fact that those games will come in the Championship is great for him and for us; it will give us an indication of where he is.

“I spoke with Gary Johnson prior to Duane going to Yeovil and he told me he will get minutes, so that’s why we’ve let him leave. It would be easy for me to keep Duane here because he’s in and around the squad, but you also need young players to make the next step and to do that he needs to play a little more regularly than he would here at the moment. No decision like this is taken lightly. 

“Yeovil is a good place for him to go. They try and play decent football in a difficult situation and this loan will add a different string to his bow. They play 4-4-2, so he has to perform in a slightly different way. I spoke with Gary about his strengths and where he is best used and I know Gary will look after him.

“Duane is a young player we think a lot of. He’s learning the game, but he’s capable and hopefully this loan will see a further improvement in him. Hopefully he gets some games under his belt and returns here having progressed a little bit further. It is down to him now; he has an opportunity to play regularly in the Championship and he has to take it.” 



Speculation has started in earnest about where Town could finish at the conclusion of the 2013/14 season, but the Manager is keen to keep the focus on Saturday’s fixture:

“We’re not looking past the next game. I speak regularly with the players and we had a recap with them last week about what we’re capable of, to which we got a good response last Saturday. 

“We have to continue in the same vein this weekend, whilst trying to tweak things to progress forward. We want to keep creating chances against sides that may come and ‘park the bus’ or press us.”

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