Danny previews the game on New Year’s Day
- Danny Cowley previews Huddersfield Town vs Stoke City
- Manager happy with the resilience his side is showing
- Town warned to beware of improved Stoke City side
Huddersfield Town Manager Danny Cowley is happy with the progress his side is showing – but warned that New Year’s Day opponents Stoke City are a team on the up.
Town come into Wednesday’s game having collected 10 points from the last available 15; something Danny credits to a renewed toughness amongst the squad.
“The response on the back of Middlesbrough, and the first 10 minutes of Sunday’s game, was good.
“We have created more of a resilience about us. We’re more determined than we were. Everybody understands and is fighting for the cause, which can be quite powerful.
“I’m not sure that everyone knew what they were fighting for previously, and that can be deenergising at times. Now everyone has a common cause. We’re far from perfect, but we’re making inroads.”
He’s hopeful that the squad will be boosted by further returns from injury, on the back of Fraizer Campbell’s comeback as a substitute on Sunday alongside first starts in over a month for Jaden Brown and Lewis O’Brien.
“We had two left footers back in the group on Sunday, which was much needed. It’s never easy trying to put a game plan together with 11 right footers; I don’t think there’s a coaching manual for that! It hasn’t been easy.
“’Pritch’ is getting closer by the day, which is great. Collin (Quaner) went to see the surgeon in Germany last week and is continuing to work on the grass to make his tendon a bit stronger. He’ll be like a new signing to us, as we haven’t had the chance to work with him really.
“We’re hopeful that ‘Hoggy’ will be back for Stoke, which would be massive for us. Jonathan Hogg gets through the work of three players.
“That we didn’t have Jon, who is such a big player for us, and that the young players still found a way to win was a real positive on Sunday. That was important, and it bodes well for the future.
The reverse fixture at Stoke City in October was a happy evening for those of a Town persuasion. Although the game at the bet365 Stadium was far from a classic, it heralded a first win of the season thanks to Juninho Bacuna’s late strike.
“It wasn’t for the feint hearted or the football connoisseurs, but I enjoyed it!” Cowley admitted.
“I quite liked the game as we won and kept a clean sheet, but it was a scrappy do. Sometimes games are like that. It was our first win for an awfully long time and sometimes, you just must find a way.”
However, the Manager believes Stoke are much-improved as we head into the first game of 2020.
“Nicky and I went to watch them against Middlesbrough, and I thought they were much better organised without the ball. They look like they’ve stripped it back.
“They have an unbelievable playing squad, in terms of depth and quality. I’m not quite sure why they are where they are, but I suppose that’s why we love football! In any case, we’re anticipating a tough game.
“They had a great comeback against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day before a narrow defeat at Fulham (on Sunday). They’re a well organised team.”
Danny puts much of that improvement down to new Stoke boss Michael O’Neill:
“Michael did amazing things with Northern Ireland. Whenever I watched his Northern Ireland team, they were always very well organised without the ball; really structured and very well coached.”
Despite Stoke’s improvement, Danny was keen to focus on his side and what they can do to record another positive result at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“We’re expecting a really tough game, but we’re buoyed by Sunday. The game will come around quickly – which is good, because we love football and we’ve got nothing else to do!
“We were in early on Monday, when the players recovered and those who didn’t play trained. We’ve analysed the game and looked at what we could have done better – certainly in the first 10 minutes – and what we did well thereafter. We’ll take that into the Stoke game.
“We’ve tried to work out Stoke with our analysts. We’ve looked at their strengths and maybe some areas where we can exploit them.”