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Match Previews


11 January 2016

David encourages players to be confident

- David Wagner previews Charlton Athletic
- Head Coach praises connection between players & fans
- Wagner discusses Kyle Dempsey at right back

Huddersfield Town Head Coach David Wagner wants his players to be at it from the first whistle when the Terriers host Charlton Athletic at the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Terriers come into the game on the back of a string of impressive performances, but Wagner is adamant the squad has a long way to go yet. 

“I am satisfied with the style of game our squad has produced in the past, but everybody knows we are only at the beginning. We’ve taken our first steps in the right direction, but we have to show that every day and in every game. We have to bring it onto the pitch every time. 

“I’ve known this squad now for 10 weeks, but we’re still trying to get to know them even better. At the moment, I have a good feeling we are developing in the right way. We have a lot to do.” 

David is particularly pleased with the reaction of Town fans to his brand of ‘full throttle’ football.

“I think we have a connection. Everyone here knew we had to make the first step and bring something onto the pitch that the supporters could like, but then they have given us something back. This is very important to us. There is a very good connection between the squad and the supporters. 

“We’ve had good feedback even when we haven’t got a result, because they can see we are working as hard as we can. We have a very big squad at the moment and we can make good decisions.” 

The Addicks will arrive in West Yorkshire on the back of a nine game winless streak – but that is of no interest to Town’s Head Coach. 

“When I prepare my squad for the game, I never think about who the favourite is or the underdog; this is totally uninteresting to me. 

“We last played in the league against Bolton – the team at the bottom of the table – and had very big problems for the first 20 minutes. This is in our mind; we know we have to work very hard, be focussed from the first moment and bring our performance on the pitch right from the beginning. 

“Charlton is able to play different styles; on the pitch or with the long ball. They’ve played different formations and are very variable. We have to make sure we know what to do against them, but it’s more important to me that we give them problems. 

“When we are able to show our best, we are strong enough to beat them. This is our target again, of course. We can be self-confident enough to target the win, but we all know we need to bring our best performance in what could be a very tough game. When we are 100%, it is not comfortable to play us. 

“This is why it is important for us to be fresh and have a healthy squad. Maybe tomorrow, we will only have Dean Whitehead missing again and we will keep our rotation running. Everybody is accepting of this idea and knows it is positive.” 

Wagner says he will not know about Tommy Smith’s availability until just before the game after the defender was subbed on Saturday with an ankle problem.

“To be honest, I don’t know right at the moment; I have a medical meeting before training. Hopefully Tommy is able to train tonight or tomorrow morning, but I don’t know exactly.

“I think that Emyr (Huws) will be available for the bench, but not for the starting XI. Yesterday was the first time he has trained with us on the pitch, so he missed almost one week because of his illness. 

“Hopefully Dean (Whitehead) will be back in training at the end of the week, so he may be available next week.” 

David deployed Kyle Dempsey at right back in Smith’s absence on Saturday and explained he thinks that is the 20 year-old’s best position moving forward:

“He’s got good football intelligence; that’s one of his biggest advantages. It is the reason he has played in so many different positions in the past as a very young player. 

“In my mind, his main position will be on the right side; more on the wings than in the centre. Right at the moment, he needs more experience to play in the centre. At the moment, his main position in my head is at right back but he is able to help in many different positions. 

“Maybe in six months or one year we will make the decision for him to play a bigger role in other positions, but right now right back is one of the best positions for him. He has practised this in training. 

“Kyle is fit enough, fast enough, his endurance is good, he is strong and not afraid to go one against one in defence and offence. Sometimes he has to be a little bit more confident on the ball, but we can develop him into a very good player. He is a good talent. 

“At the moment, we only have Tommy Smith in that position. In my opinion, Kyle is more able to be his backup than Martin Cranie, who is more a defensive-thinking player. I like to have full backs who are more forward-thinking.” 

Wagner has the option to give James Husband a full debut on Tuesday night, but he admitted that he is happy with both left back options at his disposal:

“This will not be a big decision, as both are good players. I will speak with Jason (Davidson) on how he feels and find out how many of our names James knows so far! James will start one of the next games, for sure.

“We will keep our rotation going for the next games. We have another four games in the next 11 days, so we have to use our strong bench like we did in the past. This is our way.” 

The Head Coach also has a choice to make in goal, with Jed Steer available after his FA Cup ineligibility.

He continued: “We have no problem here. It’s very good to have Jed back and Joe fit. Tomorrow Jed will play in goal again and Joe will play in the rematch at Reading, for sure. Both are very good goalkeepers.” 

Wagner reserved his final words for Town’s Under-21 side, which recorded a 14th straight win at Nottingham Forest on Monday afternoon.

“I think the results say everything. A few of the talents are already a normal part of my squad and have got playing time. At the moment we want to give them playing time with the First Team, as we have Kyle Dempsey.”

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