HUDDERSFIELD Town manager Lee Clark wants to make two new signings during the January transfer window.
The Terriers are handily placed in the League One promotion race and will reclaim second place with a win tonight at home to Carlisle United due to the other challengers not being in action until tomorrow.
To ensure Huddersfield remain on course to go one better than the past two seasons, when their promotion dreams were dashed in the play-offs, Clark intends to bolster his squad once the window opens next week with two players he initially targeted earlier in the season.
Stoke City’s Ben Marshall, who is on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, has previously been linked with a £500,000 move to the Galpharm Stadium, though one player who will not be joining is Swindon Town’s Leon Clarke after Clark yesterday dismissed speculation in the national media earlier this week that he was on the verge of making a bid.
On the upcoming transfer window, Clark said: “I do have two players in mind. If I can get those two then I will be delighted.”
Asked if he hoped to conclude either deal early in the window, Clark replied: “I was asking for them in September so Dean (Hoyle, chairman) and Nigel Clibbens (chief executive) know the two players I want.
“We have been in the process of trying to work out the best way forward. If we can do the deals, we can do the deals.
“But if those two players I am after don’t happen then I don’t have a problem. I think they would make us extremely strong but we are very strong at the moment anyway.
“If I can’t get them, I won’t go chasing anyone else.”
Along with trying to bring in a couple of new faces, Clark still has to decide whether to try to extend the stay of loanee Jon Parkin once his initial period ends early in January. Another loanee Alex Bruce was yesterday recalled by Leeds United.
Cardiff City’s Parkin does not feature in his parent club’s plans.
One decision that Clark will not have to make during the upcoming window is over the future of top scorer Jordan Rhodes, who Town chairman Hoyle has again publicly stressed will be going nowhere. As Hoyle admits inside today’s Yorkshire Post, however, his firm stance over Rhodes is unlikely to deter interest with West Ham United having already been linked with a £3m move for the Town striker.
With a host of other clubs likely to follow suit in making their interest known, the danger is that, no matter how many times Huddersfield issue a ‘hands-off’ warning, the saga could become a distraction until the window closes at the end of January.
Clark, though, is adamant he is relaxed about the matter and that it will not become a sideshow to the season’s aim – winning promotion.
He said: “Me and Dean spoke about it earlier this week and our exact words were, ‘Let the fun begin’.
“I am cool with it because I know what the chairman has said. And I believe him and trust him 100 per cent.
“Managers don’t always get the final say but what I do know is that the chairman has the same belief as me. He has been in the public domain and said that.
“He also said it privately to the players many weeks ago to pre-empt that. The players looked him in the eye and said they wanted to stay to get us promotion. It is because of this that I am relaxed.”
The 20 goals Rhodes, who is contracted until 2015 at the Galpharm, has scored for Town this term are the reason predatory clubs have been circling around the Barnsley-born striker ahead of the window opening.
Clark added: “I am surprised only one club has been linked with Jordan in the national press so far. I imagine that will start to change.
“When you have done what Jordan has done then it is part-and-parcel of the game. I believe Jordan is thriving off it.
“Big clubs with very experienced managers will be seeing what he is doing and want him in their team. That is inspiring.
“In fact, I hope there are four or five of my players being linked with other clubs. It would be fantastic.”
Huddersfield are chasing a notable milestone tonight when they host Carlisle, the team they faced on the opening day of 2011.
Victory would take Town’s points tally for the year to 100 but, more importantly in terms of the promotion race, it would also ensure Clark’s men leapfrog three promotion rivals to go second in the table.
The Terriers manager said: “Going second is a fantastic incentive. It would be a nice feeling to go into Saturday knowing we were second as that would mean there is a bit of pressure on the other teams.
“I was at Sheffield United on Tuesday (when they beat Notts County) and they had that incentive. They handled it well.
“It is a very tight division and all the teams are going on similar types of runs.
“(Leaders) Charlton have a bit of a cushion but then there are four or five clubs pursuing them. Everyone is just waiting for someone else to make a mistake so they can take over.”
Peter Clarke is back in the squad after serving a one-game ban against Chesterfield on Boxing Day, but Callum Woods and Damien Johnson are still out along with Alex Smithies.
Last six games: Huddersfield Town LWLLDW, Carlisle United LWLWDD.
Last time: Hudds Town 3 Carlisle United 0; February 8, 2011; Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Referee: M Naylor (Sheffield).
Dean Hoyle interview: Page 22.