Chris previews Tuesday night’s clash with Reading
Huddersfield Town Manager Chris Powell is keen to twin the team’s recent defensive resilience with a cutting edge in Tuesday night’s Sky Bet Championship game against Reading.
Town’s defence has been very impressive in the previous two fixtures; something that has pleased Powell:
“Centre halves are the soldiers of the team. You have to be extremely resilient and they are the ones that lead the way. We’ve only conceded one goal in the last two games – from a set play – and from open play we’ve been good defensively.”
Chris was keen to praise goalkeeper Alex Smithies, who has been central to that resilience:
“Alex Smithies has been extremely assured and I’m pleased for him that we kept a clean sheet on Saturday. He made a crucial save at a crucial time in the game.
“He knows the game. People know he’s been around a long time, but he’s still only young – especially for a goalkeeper. He’s got the games behind him already and he can only get better.
“We knew Cardiff would be quite direct and that lots of crosses would come in, but he was very positive. He’s always like that; I’m very happy with Alex.”
Another player who has impressed is young centre-half Murray Wallace, who drew praise from the Town boss:
“Murray is a player I knew about when I came to the football club; he was a player clubs knew about a number of years back. After watching him closely, I know he has all the qualities needed to make a career at this level. He’s diligent, a good trainer, a good listener and wants to learn and get better. His left foot gives the team balance, which all managers like.
He’s only young and he’ll make mistakes, like all young players, but he was someone I wanted in the squad. I’ve bided my time with him, but I thought he was outstanding on Saturday; arguably our best player. Against Callum Wilson the previous week (at Bournemouth) he was very strong, read the play well and made good decisions. That comes from experience of playing games.
“I’ve been true to my word with Murray. He was a bit frustrated early on because I had Joel Lynch and Mark Hudson playing, but I felt his time would come in the team. That time is now and he’s showing his worth.”
The challenge now is to team that defensive robustness with goals – something Powell has seen his team do already this term.
He explained: “I’ve been really pleased with the defensive attributes, but we want to strike a balance to have that and a cutting edge. Sadly for us, we didn’t really have that on Saturday. However, I think we have had that over the duration of my time here.
“Over the course of 46 games, you will get ones like Saturday – more than one. We’ve had them. Of course I’d love to win 3-0 every game, but you have to find different ways to win a game. We certainly don’t go out not trying to be positive and on the front foot. We always field players who can beat opponents and create.
“Sometimes it won’t happen. When that is the case we look at ourselves, but you sometimes have to credit the opposition too. Cardiff made it hard for us on Saturday.
“After beating Watford, our last few home games haven’t been to our liking; the losses to Leeds and Wolves and Saturday’s draw. We want our fans to be happy and understand their frustration – we’re no different. We need a home win.
“We have good footballers here who want to perform as a team. We do our best to impose ourselves on the opposition and we have done that recently. We know we will do it again.”
The Terriers are in the middle of a busy schedule at the moment and Powell hinted he may shuffle his pack with players to choose from.
“Of course we have some bumps and bruises, as always, but there’s only Joel Lynch who has no chance of playing against Reading.
“Joel is highly unlikely for Charlton as well given the amount of time he’s been out, so we’re looking at next week for him at the earliest.
“We may have to freshen up the team and squad given the amount of games we’re playing. We’ll prepare as best we can and I know the players will give their best again.”
Tuesday night will be the third meeting of the season between Town and the Royals, but Powell believes the midweek opponents are a better side at this point:
“They’ve evolved a little bit since our last meeting. We’ve watched them and we know that their system has changed. They’ve settled on a group of players, but equally they may freshen it up.
“They recorded a superb result at Ipswich on Saturday having lost at home to Wigan, which is typical of the Championship.
“I’m sure Steve (Clarke) will look at this as a game he wants to take something from against a side in and around you. They have some strengths in their team, but equally they have some weaknesses that we will do our best to exploit.”
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