Chris previews Saturday’s Yorkshire derby
Chris Powell wants his Huddersfield Town side to show what it is capable of when Saturday’s Yorkshire derby at home to Sheffield Wednesday is broadcast live on Sky Sports.
After a superb run of form during October and November, Town went into the international break on the back of successive defeats at Derby County and Fulham. However, Powell was keen for those results not to disguise the upturn in performances from his side.
“There has been a marked improvement in us, but at Fulham we conceded at the wrong times. They are the errors we need to take out of our play, because in general we’ve been good,” Chris told htafc.com.
“We’ve looked good when attacking, which you need to score goals, and we’re playing the good brand of football that I preach.
“I’d like us to play well and win well, like we did against Nottingham Forest in every game, but I’m a realist and sometimes we have to take a scrappy 1-0. It doesn’t mean we can’t strive to be the best we can.”
Chris explained that he’s used the international break to try something a bit different with his squad.
“The two week break has been good. We’ve mixed a bit of rest with some work. I changed things a little bit on Monday by doing yoga and grappling, which helps posture and balance.
“Mark Hudson already does yoga. There are a lot of players who take it up now, and I think the earlier the better. It can prolong careers, as everyone saw from Ryan Giggs.
“The grappling was an eye-opener! We had a professional fighter here with his coach – they were very strong guys and very clever. 40 minutes of that was hard work, which was a great. It was good to do something different for the players’ mind-sets.
“We’ve been back on the training field since. On Thursday and Friday we’re training at 12.15pm to get our minds and bodies in sync with the early kick-off on Saturday.
“The boys are ready to get back playing, especially at the John Smith’s. We’ve been good at home recently, winning three and drawing one of the last four games, so we want to carry that on. The way we performed in our last home game raised the standard and if we get anywhere near that on Saturday, we’ll be in for a good day.”
Town has a fairly clean bill of health ahead of Saturday, with three senior players returning to full fitness after spells on the side-lines:
“Joe Lolley and Adam Hammill both played against Cardiff for the Under-21s on Monday and got some more minutes under their belts, which is really good. They’re on their way back, but I don’t like to rush players coming back from injury – they need to build up their fitness and physicality to make sure they’re ready for the Championship. They have to be right.
“James Vaughan is now upping his work, which is really good, but again I won’t rush him. Everyone knows his history, so we have to make sure we don’t have a repeat.
“For the other players, it’s ‘so far, so good’. We still have two training sessions, but hopefully we will be ok.”
Saturday’s opponents Sheffield Wednesday will arrive at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday without a win since late September, but Powell won’t let that disguise the quality the Owls have to offer:
“Like most Championship sides, Wednesday have had a sticky run. However, I covered their opening game of the season at Brighton for the media and they performed very well.
“They started the season well before suffering a bit of a downturn, but we can’t pay attention to that because it can turn around at any given time in this division. We can’t go in thinking it’s going to be an easy game, because it certainly won’t be.
“I know Stuart (Gray); he’s got some good players. He’s added one or two on loan in (Gary) Taylor-Fletcher and (Lewis) McGugan, who know the level. We’ll be wary of anything they throw at us, but equally we want to show the level of performance and desire to put them under pressure. Hopefully that will lead to us creating and taking chances.”
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With the game being broadcast live on Sky Sports, Powell wants his side to show the world what it is capable of:
“I’m sure we’ll all have our hair cut and beards shave; I certainly will! The players want to do well, because people have been talking about us as we improved. We now have a good opportunity to show people that improvement in the televised early kick-off.
“We know it will be noisy and vociferous, with plenty of Town fans and lots of Sheffield Wednesday fans too. We want to perform and get the fans on the edge of their seats.”
The Club will use Saturday’s game to promote awareness of the Town Foundation, the Club’s registered charity that aims to improve the lives of youngsters in the local area. The pinnacle project of the charity is the ‘Early Kick-Off’ breakfast club scheme, which sees over 1,000 breakfasts served across 15 locations every day.
“It’s phenomenal – we should all shout from the rooftops about the work the Town Foundation does,” Chris continued.
“I know a lot of football clubs back their local area, but I think we are second-to-none. What we do with local schools, businesses, junior football clubs and generally engaging youngsters is incredible.
“For the Foundation to serve 1,000 breakfasts a week would be something, but we do 1,000 a day! This is what football clubs should do, because they are focal points for the community. I’ve realised in my two months here that Town that local people are proud of their club and I’m really proud of the work that gets done here.
“Part of a footballer’s job is to represent your club, the area and yourself. It’s important that the lads get involved in what the Club does and our players go and do it; I’ve been taken aback by some of their support.”