Since mid-February, the Terriers have been playing every weekend and midweek, something which has become the norm for all clubs in this condensed Championship season.
So a Friday night game followed by a blank midweek has been a bit of a novelty, and it has allowed Jonathan Hogg, Danny Ward and Alex Pritchard to put themselves in contention to face Queens Park Rangers this weekend.
After seven unrelenting matches, it has been important to take a short breather and work on building on the positivity of back-to-back draws which have eased Huddersfield’s relegation fears.
“It was a necessary break because the players played many games in a row, especially the last two with only two days between them,” argued coach Corberan. “To have the option to stop a little bit and give the players the rest they were deserving was important.
“After that we’ve been able to prepare for Saturday’s game with a bit more time. It’s been a positive week.”
Thirty-three-year-old centre-forward Campbell certainly feels he has benefited.
“It’s essential,” he said of the downtime. “It’s a normal week but it feels like we’re having the summer off!
“It’s important everyone gets what they need. If they need a bit of time off the grass or topping-up work, they can get it. We’ve got eight days to get ready for the game and it’s been nice.”
When Sanogo joined late last month it was having not played since Ligue 1 was abandoned last March. He made his two substitute appearances before a full debut in last week’s 0-0 draw with Cardiff City.
“We took a little bit of a risk with how long he played (77 minutes) but I thought his level was growing with the passing of minutes,” explained Corberan. “That’s why I took the risk to accelerate his progression a little bit. I was very conscious of how many games there were left until the end of the season and he has had a full year of not playing so I wanted him to just play 45 minutes but I was thinking the game demanded a striker like him on the pitch and every minute he seemed better adapted.
“I was more anxious in the first five minutes of the second half than the last 10 minutes he was on the pitch.
Huddersfield’s form has tailed off in 2021 and injuries to key players have been a big factor. The loss of midfielder Carlos Eiting has been keenly felt, as has winger Josh Koroma’s. Richard Stearman’s recent return from injury has helped make up for Christopher Schindler’s absence, and the injury problems which have dogged Ward since he returned to the club in the summer have been slightly mitigated by Sanogo.
Desperate not to suffer any more serious injuries, Corberan has had to be careful about what he asks of those still standing.
“At this stage of the season training can’t have the same duration it had at the beginning,” he explained. “The sessions need to be shorter but you need to keep the same intensity.
“We need to adapt to the individual needs of players. For example when Danny Ward rejoined training he had not been involved in many sessions, so it was a positive for him to increase his work but other players are totally different because they have played many games in a row.
“We always have subjective tests to measure the impact of the previous training session (on individual players) and we need to analyse the habits the players have had over the last months. If a player does not have the habit of training for more than three days in a row you cannot train him for four because you are taking a risk of injury.
“There are two important aspects we need to evaluate: the numbers the players are doing in training and the number of consecutive days they can be on the pitch. With these and the feelings of the players, we try to make the best decisions we can.”
Ward and Pritchard played for the B team against Rochdale this week and although Hogg did not, Corberan says his shorter lay-off means he too is in contention to face the Rs.
With Corberan suggesting Huddersfield will probably stick to the 3-5-2 formation used against Cardiff, midfielder Hogg is most likely to return.
Meanwhile, Town’s Easter matches have been pushed back a day for live television coverage, and the kick-off against Bournemouth has been brought forward for the same reason.
The Championship visit of Brentford will now be at 12.30pm on Easter Saturday, and they will travel to Norwich City on April 6. The home game against Bournemouth now kicks off at 5.30pm on April 13.
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