Huddersfield Town v Stoke City: Terriers must make it a happy Christmas by being successful, says boss Wagner

HEAD COACH David Wagner has a simple message for those Huddersfield Town players experiencing their first Christmas without a winter break: It's good to talk.

Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner says after three years he knows what to expect from football's Christmas schedule (Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire).

The Terriers host Stoke City today and then Burnley on Saturday. With last Saturday bringing a long trip to Southampton and Town due to tackle Leicester City on New Year’s Day, the festive season is a busy one for Yorkshire’s sole Premier League representative.

This is Wagner’s third Christmas in English football, but summer signings such as Laurent Depoitre, Steve Mounie, Jonas Lossl and Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen are about to tread new ground due to previously playing in leagues that take a break at this time of year.

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“I have been here three years so I know what to expect,” said the Town chief. “But that is not the case for all our players.

“Some have never experienced playing at Christmas before, it will be totally different from any experience they have had. I have told the players that.

“To help, I have said they should ask the players who were here last Christmas how they handled it. Because it is different, they have to be ready.”

Wagner’s first two festive seasons in England proved successful with Town taking seven points from three games in both years.

Now rubbing shoulders with the elite, a repeat from the forthcoming trio of outings will not be easy, but the German is backing his players to rise to the occasion.

He added: “Playing at this time of year is different in one way, but it is also very easy in another way because you don’t have time to think about things too much. There are so many games, they come thick and fast.

“It means the players don’t have the opportunity to think, ‘Usually, I now decelerate my training and sing some Christmas songs with my family, eat a lot and lay on the sofa for two weeks’.

“That cannot happen in English football. It is hard work, hard work and hard work. Even if I am now used to it after three years, it still feels strange.

“Let’s say it does not feel correct. Where I am from, it still feels strange. But I also know that it is part of the game and once you have had the experience you know you can handle this period.

“In the past, if you were successful then it was enjoyable. That is what we have to aim to be, to make it a happy Christmas.”

Among those used to a break at this time of year is full-back Florent Hadergjonaj. He had a fortnight off in the past two seasons with Ingolstadt in Germany, while previously in the Swiss Super League the full-back was used to a six-week lay-off from mid-December.

“This will be my first time,” said the 23-year-old, whose family have flown in from Switzerland for the holiday period. “That is new, but I was aware about this when I signed.

“It is something special and something that will not be a problem for me. Football is my life and that is it.”

Considering the short turnaround since Saturday’s draw at St Mary’s, Town having faced one of their longest trips of the season three days ago could have been a big concern.

However, since winning promotion, Wagner and his players have flown much more frequently to cut down travelling time.

“Being in the Premier League and flying more does make it easier,” he said. “We did fly in the Championship, I remember flying from Brighton once. Maybe we would have flown to Southampton anyway.

“But it is true we can, for sure, fly more often now or go by train to London. That helps us.”

Last six games: Huddersfield Town LLWLWD Stoke City LWLLLW.

Referee: A Taylor (Cheshire).

Last time: Huddersfield Town 0 Stoke City 0; December 29, 2001; Division One.