Chris previews Saturday’s game with Derby County
Chris Powell wants Huddersfield Town to put a spanner in Derby County’s Play-Off push when the Rams visit the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.
Steve McClaren’s side reinvigorated its promotion aspirations with a comprehensive midweek win over already relegated Blackpool, but Powell wants the Terriers to derail that charge by taking all three points on Saturday.
“Derby will come here and do their best to cement a place in the top six, but we want to carry on our excellent vein of form. We’re not worried about what Derby want to achieve; I’m focussed on what Huddersfield needs to do,” Chris told htafc.com.
“If we upset their Play-Off campaign, that’s football. It’s happened to Huddersfield over the years - and it’s happened to me too. People might think we have nothing to play for, but we have; pride, momentum a feel-good factor for next season, which is very important to the Club.
“I know I have history with Derby as a player many moons ago – a time I look back on with very fond memories – but that’s gone now. At the time Steve (McClaren) was my coach under Jim Smith; he’s a man I like and admire. He’ll know I’m a professional and I want to do my job for Huddersfield, which on Saturday is to get three points.
“It’ll be a good game on Saturday and a real test for us; one we will certainly be ready for. We want to finish with a flourish. We want to finish this season seven matches unbeaten, because positivity for a club like Huddersfield Town is key.
“We’ve been good against the top teams, so that’s the motivation for Saturday. This season we have reserved our best performances against the likes of Ipswich, Brentford and Watford and I’d like to do the same against Derby.”
Although the Terriers have no chance of promotion or relegation with three games remaining, Powell has a clear target in mind that is still to be achieved:
“I want nine points. I spoke with my Chairman recently about the last two seasons, where we got 58 and 53 points, and we’d like to surpass both those targets. I think that would show progress for the football club.
“After that we can review what has been a very up and down season. We had a really bad week losing to Charlton, Brentford and Rotherham that was very hard to take, but we got through it and regrouped. The players were very good in that respect and the fans stuck with us, which isn’t always easy when you look at the table. It’s testament to everyone that we came through it.
“There are many things that I want us to improve upon next year. We’ll aim higher – into the top half of the division. You need to have aspirations. That will come through good management, coaching and trying to improve the group of players. Our players will benefit from the experiences of this season, without a doubt.”
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Powell gave an update on Town’s two injured players; Harry Bunn (hamstring) and James Vaughan (knee).
“Harry is training, which is great. He’s scored many good goals for us this year and has got a few assists and now he’s back in the mix. Hopefully he’s trained enough to be involved on Saturday.
“James hasn’t trained yet and we’re still not sure if he will be available for Saturday.
“Otherwise we do have a few knocks, aches and pains, which is no surprise given how much these players have given the Club recently. We’ve had two away games, in which we’ve got two clean sheets and four points. They’re in a good place, so I think those bruises and bumps will be ok come Saturday!”
Powell was asked if Town’s Under-21 players might feature more prominently towards the end of the campaign, but he was adamant the time must be right for the individual in question.
“We’ve had young players in and around the group for the majority of the season; the likes of Duane Holmes, William Boyle, Joe Wright, Jake Charles, Joe Wilkinson, Philip Billing and Lloyd Allinson have all been on the bench. That has given them a taste of the preparation, atmosphere and pressure involved.
“Blooding young players is always about timing. People might feel that the time is right because we are safe, but it might not be the right time for them. At First Team level, the pressure is always on to win football matches and impress our fans; now we have to entice them to come back next year.
“We want to give our fans a glimpse of the future, but all the factors have to be right. When fans see a young player they want to see what they’re all about, but you can’t judge them on a handful of 15 minute appearances. That is just the start of their development and career.
“Whether or not our current crop will get a taste against Derby, Blackburn or at Blackpool, we will see. The last thing I want to do is expose our young players to it and for it not to be the right time. There may be an opportunity. They’ve done very well at Under-21 level this season, but that is very different to Championship football.”
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