Youngsters could play a key role in Huddersfield Town’s Championship run-in

In lieu of sufficient time to prepare for the tests Bournemouth will throw at them, Carlos Corberan will be relying on the intelligence and experience of his Huddersfield Town players tonight, but the last two matches have shown the Spanish coach there could also be a role for youthful exuberance too.

IN CONTENTION: Alex Vallejo could return for Huddersfield Town against Bournemouth tonight. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe
IN CONTENTION: Alex Vallejo could return for Huddersfield Town against Bournemouth tonight. Pictures: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The Terriers go into tonight’s home game with an eight-point buffer to the relegation zone but it is not as comfortable as it seems because Rotherham United, who host Queens Park Rangers this evening, have three games in hand, one of which they will make up at home to Coventry City on Thursday.

It means Huddersfield have little choice but to push hard for points against a side who inflicted a damaging 5-0 defeat in the reverse fixture. Town have won only four of their 23 games since that day when they appeared to surrender with their team selection.

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It is not as if Bournemouth play much like Saturday’s opponents Rotherham, their style far more possession-based, so Corberan wants his team to learn from previous matches against sides who play similarly.

HEAD COACH: Carlos Corberan. Picture: Tony Johnson

“The preparation has to come from previous experience, it cannot come from training,” said Corberan, who hopes to have midfielder Alex Vallejo back after a head injury.

“When you are playing against a team like Bournemouth you need to use the previous game we played against them and the games against Brentford, Norwich and Swansea for the style and quality of the opponents. These are going to be similar games.

“We need to use our experience knowing the type of opposition we are going to face more than the experience from the training ground because it’s really impossible to prepare for a game at the level we face in this time.

“We had Sunday to recover and Monday to prepare for the game, which is going to be another tough challenge.

BACK IN TRAINING: Huddersfield Town's Josh Koroma is edging towards a return to action after suffering a long-term injury earlier in the season. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

“Ours is the first game of this round of matches (kicking off earlier than the rest at 5.30pm) and to be in the Championship means you have to be ready to compete for a result without enough time to recover or prepare, that’s what this level of football demands.”

Huddersfield earned a creditable 1-1 draw at Brentford a week and a half ago but have since lost 7-0 at Norwich City and were extremely fortunate to escape with a 0-0 draw at home to Rotherham. Corberan wants them to show mental resilience when they return to the John Smith’s Stadium this evening.

“The mindset now of the players is going to have a big impact on the level (of performance) in the next games,” he said.

“We need to try to keep the confidence (up) when we have a good result or a bad result. It’s very important to come into the games with a high level of confidence in ourselves.

“We need to continue to be demanding of ourselves because only that can put us at the level we need to compete and we need the braveness to exploit the possibilities and the character and personality to make the most of these kind of moments. It’s going to be key for us.”

But with key players such as Josh Koroma, Rolando Aarons, Carel Eiting and Harry Toffolo out injured – the first three are now back in training but need B team minutes before they are considered for the seniors – Huddersfield will also have to look to make the most of their squad depth at times.

Sorba Thomas and Scott High have both brought real energy, if not always end product, from the bench in the last two matches and could help fill the holes left by Koroma/Aarons on the left wing and Ajax loanee Eiting in midfield respectively.

“It’s very important to have them (Thomas and High) because of the number of games we are going play and the energy in our legs,” said Corberan. “We have the option for them to have an impact from the bench or the first XI.

“For me High’s main position is as a No 8 (box-to-box midfielder) because he can cover many metres on the pitch, he can be close to the centre-back defending and arrive close to the centre-forward in attack.

“To have players that can cover all these spaces is always positive.

“He’s a very young player, he doesn’t really have enough experience to play in the Championship, but he is showing with his character and mentality he is adapting very fast to the demands of the Championship.”

Jonathan Woodgate’s Bournemouth, relegated from last season’s Premier League, have clambered back into the Championship play-off positions on the back of four straight league wins.

A fifth tonight would move them above Barnsley into fifth place on goal difference with matches remaining for both.

Last six games: Huddersfield Town DLDDWDD; Bournemouth WWWLWL

Referee: J Simpson (Lancashire)

Last time: Huddersfield Town 0 Bournemouth 2, March 9, 2019, Premier League.

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