Huddersfield Town: Terriers are better equipped for winter challenge, believes Carlos Corberan

AFTER 20 Championship games of the 2021-22 campaign, Huddersfield Town find themselves with exactly the same amount of points – 28 – as they had at the same juncture of last season.

The positivity that Town built up in the autumn of 2020 was soon replaced by hard reality last winter, which ended with Carlos Corberan’s side thrown into a relegation scrap.

It was a time when form slipped and the thinness of the Terriers’ squad was exposed amid a bit of an injury crisis.

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It is unwise to make predictions in the capricious Championship and you certainly will not catch head coach Corberan falling into the trap of suggesting that his side are currently play-off contenders, even amid a division which looks as open as it has done in years, below the top two at any rate.

Huddersfield Town head coach Carlos Corberan. Picture: PA

But Corberan is comfortable enough to express confidence that Town are better placed, in terms of their options at least, to cope with this year’s winter grind and hopefully maintain their league placing going into 2022.

Town, who make the short derby trip to second-from-bottom Barnsley tomorrow, have lost their last two matches and will be seeking a reaction from last weekend’s sub-standard defeat to Middlesbrough in particular.

Their current position of eighth, five points behind the two sides placed in the final two play-off positions in Blackburn and Coventry – who they face over the next month – is encouraging amid the bigger picture.

As are their options in comparison to last season.

Corberan told The Yorkshire Post: “We have a squad which allows us to think we are going to be a more competitive team and we can be a more stable team.

“Because it is true that as soon as you have a couple of players who can play in each position, you are going to be less effective with the injuries.

“Right now, for example, we have lost two players in the main positions in midfield in (Jonathan) Hogg and (Alex) Vallejo and we create one squad where both important players were taking the roles in centre midfield. But the (other) players continue to be competitive with them being out.

“I consider the best position of Scott High is when he plays as a number eight, but we have the option to play Scott and (Lewis) O’Brien in the middle (number six role) and it shows that the group of players is higher (quality) and are close in their levels. We have options that enables us to have the same levels in the team.

“This is one factor that gives us a lot of confidence. Last year, we didn’t find solutions when players suffered injuries. But in this group, we have possibilities, so aren’t using injuries as an excuse to not perform.

“We have a group of 24 that complicates my selection and gives us enough players to face any opponent and have options.”

Key defender Matty Pearson, who came off last weekend with a back problem, will return to the squad for the trip to his former club Barnsley if he comes through training today.

Meanwhile, striker Jordan Rhodes (back) could be in contention for the home game with Coventry on Saturday week if he successfully comes through a B team game next week.

Rhodes’s last first-team appearance was on August 14.

One thing that Corberan feels must get better is the club’s modest away form, with Town boasting just two victories in 10 league matches thus far ahead of tomorrow’s derby trip to Oakwell, where the hosts have won just twice in the league this season.

Corberan, whose side will be backed a big away following at Barnsley, added: “It is one point where it is necessary to improve to be a more competitive team because as soon as you are not getting (consistent) results every time you go away, it means you are not being competitive enough in the Championship.”