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19 February 2015

Chris discusses Saturday’s game

Chris Powell wants his side to break into the top half of the Sky Bet Championship, but knows it won’t be easy when Cardiff City visits the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday. 

Town’s team comes into the game with four wins, two draws and three losses starting with the 2-2 draw at Rotherham United on Boxing Day; a record that Powell reflected on at Thursday’s press conference. 

“It’s been ok. We’ve looked at it ourselves and every time we’ve had a setback we’ve answered it, which is good on our part. 

“From the last eight games, if we’re talking strictly about the Championship, we have four wins; Bolton, Watford, Millwall and Wigan. That also includes two home defeats against Wolves and Leeds, but we’ve been in both games. 

“We go into Saturday after an uplifting draw at Bournemouth, especially on the back of a home defeat. I thought my players were very good on the day; they all had a role to play and they played it.”

Just as Town’s record on the road has improved, the home form has dipped – with successive defeats against Leeds United and Wolves. 

Powell continued: “It’s been funny really 2015, as things have turned on their head. Our home form has wavered a bit but our away form has picked up. We’ve still got room for improvement, like 20 of the teams in the league. The Championship is tight; it’s going to chop and change all the way till the end of the season.

“Blips are part of being in the Championship; every team that’s in it knows that even the sides that are supposedly running away with it have the blips. 

“We’ve analysed the Leeds game and we shouldn’t have lost, especially with the chances we created. Wolves could have been 7-7 - it’s bizarre when you look back - but that’s the Championship. Wolves hadn’t won away for a while and then they come away with a 4-1 win that I’m sure Kenny Jackett didn’t expect. 

“I doubt people, apart from those that support Huddersfield, would’ve felt we would get something from Bournemouth, especially on the back of their terrific home form. We got our tactics right, we went out there and displayed exactly what I was looking for.” 

Powell is now targeting a run of results that will see the Terriers break into the top half of the table for the first time this season.

“We can see that Birmingham City is in the top half, a single point above us. We want to do our best to keep looking up, but we have to keep looking over our shoulders and do your best to pull away from the bottom three.”

Ahead of Saturday’s game against the Bluebirds, Powell is pleased with the strength of his options:

“The lads know we have players not involved in the team that have played at this level. They know they have got to perform, because there are others who are ready to play and do the business at this level. 

“Nahki Wells was on the bench last weekend; he has had a stop-start last three games. He’s my top goal scorer and more often than not he will be on the pitch, starting and getting goals for us to win games.”

Another player pushing for a start is Ishmael Miller, who made an impressive late appearance as a substitute last weekend:

Chris continued: “He had small cameo roles against Bournemouth and Millwall but he got 90 minutes against Wolves, which I think was important. 

“We’ve had a look at his clips and there’s a lot of good things in there. I think he’s showed even in the 10-15 minutes he was involved last week against Bournemouth exactly what he was about; he could have won us the game with a bit of skill and pace that he displayed. 

“I’m really pleased with him and he’s fitting in really well. The boys have taken to him. I feel it’s also pushed Nahki Wells and James Vaughan on as I’ve got three good strikers and I’m really pleased with that. I’m sure Ishmael will have a big part to play and hopefully bring some goals to the table as well.”

One man who won’t feature against Cardiff is injured Wales international Joel Lynch, as Chris explained: 

“He won’t be available for Cardiff or Reading. He has an outside chance for Charlton, but we will see how he reacts and his training goes. He’s the only one in the treatment room, so that bodes well and I want that to continue. 

“We will have to make sure we look after the players because the games in the next two weeks are coming thick and fast.” 

On Saturday’s opponent Cardiff, Chris said:

“They are a point behind us. They got points on the board early on, so when they do have the blips it helps you when the results aren’t to your liking. 

“Cardiff is a good football club, but they’ve had change and Russell Slade has come in. He has to get used to the Championship - and I’m sure he will. 

“They’re amongst a cluster of teams that will feel they need two or three results to move away from the bottom half of the table into the top half. They’ve got some players that have played at a Premier League level and they do have their strengths. Russell is making a few changes as well; some forced and some unforced.”

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