Chris previews Saturday’s game at Charlton
Chris Powell told the press that he has a job to do when he makes his first return to Charlton Athletic as Huddersfield Town Manager on Saturday.
The Town boss is a legend at the Valley after three playing spells and one successful stint as Addicks’ manager and is looking forward to the weekend, but will be proud to lead Huddersfield Town into action.
Chris explained: “It’ll be quite a special moment, because when I left the football club I didn’t get to say goodbye to the most important people – the supporters. It’ll be great to be able to do that, as they were exceptional to me. It’s a big moment for Alex (Dyer) as well, plus Mark Hudson is going back to a Club where he was captain for a season.
“Of course, I’ll have over 2,000 blue and whites at the other end that I represent now. That’s why I’m at the Valley on Saturday – to do what I have to do to win the game for Huddersfield Town.
“We need to continue what we’ve been doing, especially away; that’s been a real turnaround and lift for us. As a result, I don’t want my return to Charlton to become a sideshow; I’ll get that out of the way before kick-off.
“We’re going there three unbeaten; two draws and a very comprehensive win on Tuesday. That’s set us up well for two road trips. We’d like to complete what has been a good week with a good performance at the Valley.
“The players will focus on what they need to do as individuals and as a team. They will treat Saturday as just another game. The big question now is can we can keep that going – we’ll be striving to make sure the answer is yes.”
Powell is hoping that the Terriers can continue the recent upturn in away form this weekend, as he explained:
“The players have shown a real focus and belief, which we needed to do. You normally win the majority of your points at home, but if you’re going to have a half-decent season you need to marry that with some sort of away form. We clearly weren’t doing that.
“Along with the staff, I looked at it and maybe we were trying to be too open away from home. You can’t do that; you need a solidity to give yourself a platform.
“We knew two or three away wins would propel us into a really good position, but we’ve not been thinking too far ahead. We want close at Rotherham and were really good value at Middlesbrough despite losing 2-0, which gave us a bit more belief about playing away from home.
“Winning under difficult circumstances at Millwall really lifted the boys and subsequently I think Mark Hudson and Murray Wallace have really shown their qualities. It goes to show sometimes that with young players, like Murray, they just need a run of games.”
The away form is not the only thing to have improved lately – Town’s defensive record has also taken an upturn, with Alex Smithies coming into the game following back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in 2014/15.
“It’s about time!” he smiled. “We’ve let ourselves down with one or two individual errors and we have worked on it, but it’s hard to legislate for those sometimes. I can accept that sometimes you will get beaten to the ball, but I’d rather it come through good play rather that our own doing.
“It’s been great for the mentality of the team. It actually started at Bournemouth, even though we did concede a set play; there were good signs of what we were capable of defensively in that game.
“Cardiff was a bit of a stalemate and has been consigned to history, but it was good we didn’t lose. We’ve been in positions like that before this season and turned them into defeats.
“We did the business on Tuesday and now we need to continue that. The players are in good spirits, because confidence always builds a bit more when the clean sheets come – especially in defenders and goalkeepers.
“Now we need more. They guarantee you points. Although it wasn’t last Saturday night, the point against Cardiff has now become a good one.”
Smithies has been at the heart of the defensive improvement ahead of signing a new long-term contract this week:
“Like strikers are judged on goals, goalkeepers are judged on keeping the ball out of the net.
“Alex is a top goalkeeper in the Championship, absolutely no doubt. I may have blue and white tinted glasses on, but I don’t think you can name many who are better. Good, young British goalkeepers are hard to come by and we have one here that we should cherish.
“He’s played over 250 games at 24 years old and normally goalkeepers don’t peak until their early thirties. He’s still got six years to get there.
“He probably gets overlooked as players come in because he’s been at the Club for a long time – that’s natural – but everyone should be proud of the fact we’ve developed this young goalkeeper, who in my opinion can only get better.”
Ahead of Saturday, Chris gave an update on the injury situation at the Club. Joel Lynch (groin) is likely to miss the game, with Powell discussing the other three outstanding issues:
“Sean (Scannell) should be ok. He missed Tuesday more through fatigue than anything as he was a little bit off it last Saturday. He’s not had a run of games like this for a long time and he’s been exceptional for us; at times he’s been our ‘go to’ man. Sometimes you have to recognise they need a bit of a breather.
“Conor Coady was ill on Tuesday morning. I had to make the decision, but he’s now in contention; he’s ok.
“Nahki Wells is 50-50 really after his heavy whack on Tuesday. He’s a bit of a worry and we’re not sure if he’ll make it.”
400 pay on the day tickets will be available to Town fans at the South Stand ticket office on Saturday