LAURENT DEPOITRE is hoping his goals can keep Huddersfield Town in the Premier League – and help the striker gatecrash this summer’s World Cup.
The Belgian international has netted five times in his first season in English football following a summer move from Porto.
The 29-year-old has already scored memorable strikes against Manchester United and Chelsea, and hopes to reach double figures this season.
While that may go some way to securing Town’s top-flight status, earning a spot in Roberto Martinez’s Belgium squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia could be more of a challenge.
Depoitre is battling for a striker’s spot alongside the likes of Chelsea duo Michy Batshuayi and Eden Hazard, Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku, Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke and Liverpool’s Divock Origi.
“I have my feet on the ground because I know the competition is really hard for that position with Belgium,” said Depoitre.
“I need to concentrate on playing for Huddersfield, perform as best as I can, then see what happens in June. It’s extra motivation.
“When I first signed for Huddersfield, I didn’t think about the World Cup.
“I just wanted to play more minutes because in Portugal I didn’t play a lot.
“I took the chance to play in England, to play more, that was my first goal.
I am big and strong, and they are my qualities. In the Premier League, there are a lot of duels and physical impact and that’s what I like.Huddersfield Town striker Laurent Depoitre
“Now it’s going well here, maybe there is a possibility of playing at the World Cup.
“But I will keep my feet on the ground.
“When you play well in the Premier League, and score, you show what you can do.
“The Belgium coach Roberto Martinez knows the Premier League very well, so that’s an advantage. I will just keep going with Huddersfield and see what happens.”
Depoitre made his international debut by scoring in a 4-1 win over Andorra in 2015.
He was recalled by Martinez in November for the friendlies with Mexico and Japan, replacing the injured Benteke.
He said: “They have some very good players in the Belgium squad, particularly in my position. Players like Benteke, Lukaku, Origi and Batshuayi, so I know the competition is very hard to get a place in the squad.”
When you think of Belgian footballers, you immediately conjure up images of the silky skills of Hazard or Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
But Depoitre resembles the archetypal English centre-forward, much like Andy Carroll of West Ham, today’s opponents.
The physical nature of the English game suits Depoitre and has helped him settle quickly into Yorkshire life.
He said: “I really like the style of English football, it’s more my style than other competitions.
“I enjoy every weekend on the pitch, and I get real pleasure in playing.
“I am big and strong, and they are my qualities. In the Premier League there are a lot of duels and physical impact and that’s what I like.
“I enjoy every game. It’s what I expected in England.
“I knew the defenders were hard, it’s a high intensity, and you have to run a lot.
“I enjoy life in here in England, even though the weather isn’t very good.
“The players are very good, so even away from the training ground we do stuff together,” he added.
In their first season in the Premier League, Town have exceeded expectations and are 11th after 22 games.
But the congested nature of the bottom half of the table means they are just four points clear of the relegation zone.
Today’s opponents West Ham, are two points worse off, increasing the pressure on the Terriers to take something from the game.
“We have to continue like we have been doing, game by game, and every point is important,” said Depoitre after back-to-back home draws with Stoke City and Burnley.
“There are 10 teams covered by just six points, so it will be very tough. We have to continue our job like we have done in the first half of the season.
“West Ham is very important, they are a tough opponent and we are at home. We have to win this game.
“We know against the big teams it is difficult to take points, so we have to take points from teams around us.”
Huddersfield lost 2-0 away to the Hammers, but they need to improve their overall scoring record of just 18 goals in 22 outings.
“We have to show more than the first game against West Ham because we were not good enough,” said Depoitre.
“Against West Ham, our direct opponents, we have to take points. It will be a tough battle.
“We are very close, the teams in the second part of the table, so we must take points.
“As a striker, you want to have a lot of chances during a game. But we know we are Huddersfield, and playing against bigger teams, so it’s difficult to have a lot of chances,
“First we have to do a lot of work defensively then wait for the chances to come.
“We have to be more clinical in front of goal, maybe create more chances.
“We know we might not create 10 chances in a game, but if we have two or three, we need to score.
“If we do that we can collect more points.”
A winner today from Depoitre would do nicely, not just in Huddersfield’s fight for survival, but in offering a timely reminder to Martinez.