WITH the sands of time very much running out for Huddersfield Town in the Premier League attention is turning to the future.
A big summer lies ahead at the John Smith’s Stadium as head coach Jan Siewert looks to build a squad capable of thriving amid the helter-skelter world of the Championship.
There is likely to be a good core of players who remain, but the inevitable departures that follow a relegation from the top flight will dictate just how extensive his rebuild has to be.
Aaron Mooy, Town’s talisman for the past three seasons, is certain to attract attention from elsewhere in the top flight and his talents deserve to remain at the top level.
Terence Kongolo, the club’s record signing, is another likely to be in big demand, while those lured to England by the opportunity to play Premier League football might not fancy stepping down a division and especially if this was to harm their international prospects.
As long ago as October Denmark’s national team manager Age Hareide was advocating Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen should “step up to a bigger Premier League side”.
Those comments make it hard to believe Hareide would welcome a defender who made three appearances at last year’s World Cup lining up against Luton Town come August.
Jorgensen is contracted to Huddersfield until the summer of 2020, while fellow countryman Jonas Lossl’s deal is up this June. Both Danes have become hugely popular figures since arriving in Yorkshire, but a footballer’s career is finite.
Others whose futures remain very much up in the air include Ramadan Sobhi, currently on loan in Egypt after making little impact since joining from Stoke City for £5.7m last summer, and one-time record signing Steve Mounie.
Then there is Philip Billing. In many ways the most mercurial member of the Terriers’ squad, the 22-year-old has the lot.
Power, grace, vision and a mean shot are just some of the many qualities that Billing possesses.
Not for nothing did David Wagner once describe the midfielder as “incomparable” for his age.
Anyone watching his imperious display in the 2-0 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers last November would surely have agreed with the former head coach’s assessment and yet there have also been times this season when the odd game has passed the Danish Under-21 midfielder by.
Maybe this inconsistency can be put down to Billing enjoying his first year as a regular for Huddersfield.
Of all those likely to leave the John Smith’s this summer, Billing is the one capable of emulating two others who truly blossomed after leaving Yorkshire in the wake of relegation from the top flight.Richard Sutcliffe
Last term, for instance, he started just eight league games. The season before that in the Championship brought 13 starts, whereas this time around Billing has missed just four matches, a one of those was through suspension.
When asked about his future yesterday the Danish Under-21 international admitted to seeing “myself as a Premier League player”.
He is right and that is why, of all those likely to leave the John Smith’s this summer, Billing is the one capable of emulating two others who truly blossomed after leaving Yorkshire in the wake of relegation from the top flight.
Andrew Robertson and Harry Maguire played in a Champions League final and World Cup semi-final respectively within a year of leaving Hull City during the summer of 2017.
Both had impressed in a Tigers shirt and were hugely popular with supporters. But it took playing alongside better players in teams used to winning, rather than losing, to realise their true potential. Billing is capable of doing the same.