BACK at the club he considers to be “home” despite being 60 or so miles from his Liverpool roots, Lee Peltier admits the recent pace of change at Huddersfield Town has taken even him by surprise.
The 27-year-old rejoined the Terriers this summer after three years away with Leicester City and Leeds United.
Championship football – Town lost the 2011 League One play-off final to Peterborough United in what proved to be his final game – was what lured Peltier away but now, feeling wiser for the experience of his time at both the KP Stadium and Elland Road, the club’s newly-appointed captain is relishing life back at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“It does feel like I am back home,” the defender told The Yorkshire Post yesterday at Huddersfield’s impressive Canalside training complex. “When I was here last time, I really enjoyed my football.
“We had a good team and we were so unfortunate not to get promoted that year (2011). I had to move on after that to progress my career and, thankfully, Huddersfield have caught up with me. When I had the opportunity to come back, I jumped at the chance.
“Looking around, the club has changed massively since I was last here in terms of facilities and the squad. Huddersfield Town has come on hugely in that time.
“The facilities here (at Canalside, where around £4m has been spent over the past couple of years) are excellent. They are the sort that will help us when it comes to making signings.
“When you look round a club, the first place you go is the training ground. You want to have a good place to work and we have that. The great thing, though, is that although things have progressed massively here, a lot of the staff are the same and the chairman is the same.”
As captain, a role he filled at Elland Road, Peltier will lead the Terriers out today ahead of what looks to be a tough opening day assignment against Bournemouth.
The Cherries, thanks to a combination of a rich benefactor and a £5m-plus windfall from the transfer of Adam Lallana to Liverpool, are regarded as a potential dark horse in the promotion race.
Town, therefore, will have to be at their best. New signings Conor Coady and Radoslaw Majewski are both in line to start in midfield, though James Vaughan is a major doubt due to the calf problem that has dogged last season’s top scorer through much of pre-season.
With the youthful make-up of the Town squad following the departure of experienced campaigners such as Peter Clarke and Keith Southern, Peltier accepts that donning the armband brings with it plenty of responsibility.
“To captain a club that I really love being at is a massive thing for me,” said the Liverpool-born defender. “It means a hell of a lot to me and my family. When I first signed, the gaffer said he expected me to be a big character in the changing rooms because I am at the age where I have experience.
“Getting the captaincy probably stemmed from there. I have been captain before at other clubs and I feel I naturally do the things expected of a captain, such as talking to the lads and shouting at people.
“But I expect that back as well because you need more than one captain in a team. There are leaders throughout this team and everyone needs to have an input.
“There are certain players I have played with who I take inspiration from. I know he wasn’t captain but I looked up to Michael Brown at Leeds. Same with Stephen Warnock. Lads who have been there, at the top, throughout their careers.
“If I am honest, it will feel a bit weird walking out as captain at our stadium. I have been back here with Leeds but this will be very different.
“As for myself, I do feel to have changed quite a bit (since leaving in 2011). Obviously, it depends what role I play in the team but, in terms of experience, I have now got more than 300 games under my belt.
“My time away has helped me a lot. I am still only 27 so I do think I know the game more than I did. I understand things better.”
As one of Town’s elder statesmen when it comes to appearances, Peltier admits he perhaps should not be surprised at how he is made to feel that little bit older from time to time.
“I look at someone like Conor and feel very old,” said the captain of the club’s new 21-year-old signing from Liverpool.
“When we were both coming up through the Anfield Academy, he was only about nine-years-old. I remember watching Conor and thinking he was a brilliant little player. And here he is at Huddersfield, making me feel old.
“He has a big future in the game and is a good, good player. Conor has had a good schooling and is a lad who wants to learn. He has good ability and I hope he does really well for the club.”
Last season was a strange affair for Huddersfield, who were a solid outfit until a late collapse – they went 10 games without winning – almost saw Robins’s men dragged into the scrap for survival.
Town did win two of their last three games to finish 17th but that has not prevented the bookmakers from tipping the West Yorkshire club to struggle again. Asked what his own target for the season was, Peltier replied: “I don’t think we should set any targets, just go out there and try to win every game.
“This league is crazy, in that if you put a run of wins together you can really shoot up the table.
“And if you lose a few, then the opposite can happen. We just want to get some consistency in the way we play. Picking up points is the target, simple as that. Starting with Bournemouth.”