IF there is one thing that David Wagner prizes above all else, it is footballers who are prepared to step out of their comfort zone.
Thankfully, since his Huddersfield Town players started out their seasonal exploration on a bonding trip to a remote island in Sweden in June, there has been an abundance of evidence that the club’s class of 2016-17 are fortified with reservoirs of resolve to do just that.
It has been shown almost on a weekly basis of late, given Town’s character-laden start to the campaign.
Wagner can rest assured that his latest addition, in the shape of Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, also appears to be made of the right stuff in the mentality stakes.
The 20-year-old was not present during Town’s summer trip to Scandinavia, when players were forced to collectively problem-solve to provide themselves with essentials such as food, water, shelter and fire, with all traditional creature comforts banned.
But at an early juncture of his career, no one can accuse him of having taken the easy route.
It explains why the Londoner had no second thoughts when it came to agreeing to loan moves many miles away from home at Plymouth Argyle and Oldham Athletic – fully embracing those challenges to enhance further his career, which has now taken him to Huddersfield.
Taking the right choices has always been key to Holmes-Dennis, who appeared on a life documentary video on You Tube last year where he spoke about the importance of making sacrifices to pursue your cherished dream.
It was footage that Wagner would have valued, there being a pretty good chance that Town’s meticulous head coach has seen it.
Bromley-raised Holmes-Dennis, who joined Town earlier this week from Charlton, the club he watched as a child and joined at the age of eight, said: “Living away from home is a good test and you get used to it, while I also have some family in Huddersfield, which is a bonus.
“But being in different parts of the country is a good mental challenge.
“It has been a tough journey for me. But going out on loan at 18, I learned a lot and needed that to get some men’s football as early as possible and step out of the youth-team game.
“That benefited me a lot and I learned a lot about myself as a person and a player.
“It is about going in and just being yourself. When I have been on loan, sometimes you think it might be difficult to fit in. But you just have to be humble and that makes it easy to get on with people.
“Football careers are not very long. You get 15 years – some maybe a bit longer – so you need to do as much as you can and work as hard as you can to get the most out of the time when you are playing.
“You have to show dedication. It makes it easier in your thinking going forward to get to certain places if you work hard. So it was not hard coming to Huddersfield.
“My parents and grandparents have all helped me massively going forward and, without them, I don’t think I would be as far as where I am. They are excited for me with this move, especially my mum.
“We have a tight relationship and it will be hard for her knowing I am living up here permanently. But she will come up.”
While family provided wise counsel when it came to Holmes-Dennis’s decision to head up north, he admits that some persuasive words from Town’s loanee from Chelsea, Kasey Palmer, whom he knows well, also helped tip the scales when making his decision.
The footballing ethos of Wagner and Huddersfield was also a selling point, their eye-catching early-season form not lost upon Holmes-Dennis.
He continued: “After a game on the weekend, I always go on the app and look at all the results and saw Huddersfield were doing well.
“It is a club going in the right direction and they play the right style of play and I feel they are suited to me.
“Kasey also told me that it is a good club and that he enjoys it here and that the lads are a good bunch in the changing room and that there is a good vibe around the place and training is good.
“That influenced me as well.”
After settling into his new surroundings, the next step for Holmes-Dennis is to try to break into the first team, which will not be easy necessarily, with Chris Lowe quickly emerging as a crowd favourite following his move from Kaiserslautern in the close-season.
Not that Holmes-Dennis is cowed by the challenge, which he feels can bring the best out of both players – comments that will have head coach Wagner nodding his head in agreement.
For his part, Wagner is unequivocal about the fact that his new signing has come in to instantly battle with Lowe for the left-back berth following Jason Davidson’s loan exit to Dutch outfit FC Groningen.
Holmes-Dennis, who has signed a three-year deal with the option of a fourth at the John Smith’s Stadium, said: “I am just looking to work as hard as I can and get in the team as soon as possible.
“He (Lowe) is a good player and it will be good competition and it will push me to do the best I can and the best he can.
“The manager has just said, ‘be patient’ and when I do get a chance, take it.
“But it is a long season and I am on a long contract and I have to do what I can to get into the team.
“It will be a good test and challenge.
“I played some Championship games last season and really enjoyed it.
“It will be nice to get as many games as I can, improve as a player and challenge myself.”