Chris comments on Saturday’s derby at Leeds
Chris Powell believes his Huddersfield Town side is making progress – something he wants to continue at Leeds United on Saturday.
“We’re absolutely making progress,” Chris told htafc.com ahead of Friday’s training session. “We kept our first clean sheet in 20 games, which is some sort of progress! We should have got something against Middlesbrough on Saturday after sticking at the task and on Tuesday, against a decent Wigan team, we earned a point and a clean sheet.
“We need to build on that. Of course, we know it’s all about wins; three points are huge, especially in a three game week. We’d like to end it with three points away from home.
“I’d take a horrible, ugly 1-0 win to us on Saturday! Derby matches can get quite open and emotional, which is why you have to keep your composure, stay organised and manage the game. Atmospheres are heightened by local pride and they are strange, quirky games sometimes.
“I’m led to believe that Huddersfield should have been out of sight by half-time in this game last year and everyone knows what the result finished; I don’t have to remind our fans.
“We will stick to what we set out to do. Of course, we’re going there for three points. We’re looking forward to it – I certainly am and I know the town is. These derby games capture the imagination of everyone. We need to put on a performance and build on what we did on Tuesday. We will be ready.”
Powell has been particularly pleased with the improvement in the Club’s defence, but is keen to make similar strides going forwards.
“Defensively we are getting there. Mark Hudson has settled in really easily and has played very well in his first two games and has dovetailed really well with Joel Lynch. That’s good, because you want that area to be settled. Murray (Wallace) has been a bit unlucky, but I’ve spoken to him and his turn will definitely come again. He will only learn from watching Mark and Joel, which will help me.
“Alex Smithies has made a couple of crucial saves in both games; I’m pleased for him. ‘Keepers are judged on clean sheets; even if you make good saves, people only see the final score. It’s good for his mind-set and for the team.
“They have something to aim for in Tuesday’s clean sheet. Now I’m challenging them to get another one. They pride themselves on keeping the opposition out and they know we have players who can get goals at the other end.
“When attacking, we need to have more passages of play when we build and go forward. We need to create as much as we can. I feel we can do that tomorrow against Leeds.
“We’ve created a few chances in the last couple of games, but we want more. We have strikers who want chances and can score goals; Nahki has scored this season and Jon Stead got off the mark in the League on Tuesday. They want more. We want to be on the front foot.
“I’m getting to know these players pretty quickly, on the training field and through games. I’m finding out how these guys play in certain positions and systems, because I’m trying to do everything to get the best out of them. We’re making small steps, one of which was getting the clean sheet.”
It seems likely that Neil Redfearn – a former teammate of Powell – will remain in caretaker charge of Leeds for Saturday’s game.
Chris continued: “I came across Neil at Crystal Palace when I was just starting, but I got to know him when we were teammates at Charlton for a year and we’ve kept in contact since; he’s a good guy. We get on well, but I won’t like him between 3 and 5 o’clock!
“He was a good technician as a player and he’s transferred that experience to become a good coach in Leeds’ Academy; he’s done well there and has Leeds at heart. He’s stepped up a number of times as Caretaker and has done well for them.”
On the team news front, Chris is hopeful that Joel Lynch will be available after an issue with his hip forced him off the pitch late into Tuesday night’s draw.
“Joel has a good chance. He has recovered really well, so we’re hoping he will be ok. He’s done a little bit of light training, so we’ll have a roll call after Friday’s training and see where we are. Hopefully he’ll be fine.
“When you have three games in a week, you carry a few knocks and don’t get as much time to recover as usual. Adam (Hammill) has had one or two knocks and we’re being careful with him, but he is training and he’s another option - if not for Saturday, maybe next week.
“We’re getting there on the injury front. Anthony Gerrard and Martin Paterson are working their way back and played for an hour in midweek and Oscar Gobern trained on Wednesday; he worked really hard and looked good. He will need time on the training pitch and in games.”