Preview: Blues v Huddersfield Town

It’s very important for midfielders to contribute with goals. Especially because they all have a goal in them.

Pep Clotet

Our full match preview ahead of tonight's Sky Bet Championship fixture between Blues and Huddersfield Town at the St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium (6pm kick-off).

Pep Clotet's thoughts on Huddersfield Town...
"It’s a team with a lot of really good players. They’ve been struggling to find consistency to pick up points but it’s not easy to come down from the Premier League and get right back on track. When you look at the players, it’s a really good squad with experience at the top level so I think the league table doesn’t really reflect the quality of players they have at their disposal. We have to be ready, take nothing for granted and make sure we’re competitive as always."

Pep Clotet on the need for Blues to make a better start against Huddersfield than they did at the weekend against Hull City...
"Of course, we want a quick start and it’s something we have spoken about this week. We’ve seen a lot of mistakes in the German league and in Spain particularly at the beginning of games. It’s important our focus is 100 per cent because these things can happen. Especially at home because there is no home advantage so it’s important to start the game properly. We can’t afford to start with mistakes which will help the opposition and given them a lift."

Pep Clotet on the need for more goals to come from midfield...
"It’s very important for midfielders to contribute with goals. Especially because they all have a goal in them. I think it’s important to encourage the midfielders to take those risks and get into positions in the final third. We saw at the weekend, when they arrive from the second line, they can pose a big threat. Gards, Crowley, Jude, can all score from that position. It’s something we can’t encourage enough really and I’m happy to see that the players have the confidence to do it. It was critical we had that on Saturday because we ended up attacking with many more numbers around the box and you need a player to arrive late and on the move."

Pep Clotet on Jeremie Bela's sharpness after seeing him come off the subs' bench to provide two goal assists against Hull...
"It was our plan from the beginning to manage Jeremie’s fitness. Everyone could see he’s ready after what he did against Hull but the thinking behind it was simple. We needed to get him up to speed physically. He got a little illness during training (non COVID-related) so he only had one full week of training before the West Bromwich game. We had to ease him in and now he looks much fitter and ready. Which is good because we cannot afford injuries on rushing players back too quick. Everyone can see what he offers the team so it’s good to see him sharp and back to the levels he set earlier in the season."

Pep Clotet on Blues playing twice a week for the remainder of the campaign...
"I enjoy the games. I like the fact we manage to be a team which is competitive no matter how many fixtures we play in a short space of time. We all want to win every game but when we can’t win, we manage to pick up draws. We’ve only lost two league games in 2020, we’re unbeaten in eight on the road so I think our squad grows from playing games. We have a very competitive group who do their best when there’s a series of games."

Huddersfield manager Danny Cowley comments ahead of the game...
"We have to try to be a bit more ruthless in that moment because we had some good chances (at Nottingham Forest). You see in a game that goals change the game, we all know this, and in the first half at Forest in our play I think we deserved to be in the lead after 40 minutes, and yet we find ourselves at half time going in 1-0 down. This is where we are at the moment, so what we have to do is keep learning and keep fighting for what we want."

Blues team news...
Midfielder Ivan Sunjic and central defender Marc Roberts are available for selection after overcoming the thigh injuries that saw them miss Blues' last two Championship games. Nico Gordon - who made his First Team debut as a late substitute in the 3-3 draw against Hull on Saturday -  picked up a minor hamstring strain in training this week and will miss out. Geraldo Bajrami and Kyle Hurst also have minor niggles. Josh McEachran (ACL) remains sidelined. Odin Bailey, Charlie Lakin and Josh Dacres-Cogley are unlikely to be available following their return from loan spells.

Huddersfield team news...
Juninho Bacuna is suspended after being sent-off in Huddersfield's defeat to Nottingham Forest. Striker Steve Mounie could return after recovering from a quad injury.

Last five meetings between Blues and Huddersfield Town...
Championship 23 Nov 2019 Huddersfield 1 Blues 1
FA Cup 06 Feb 2018 Blues 1 Huddersfield 4
FA Cup 27 Jan 2018 Huddersfield 1 Blues 1
Championship 29 Apr 2017 2 Huddersfield 0
Championship 05 Nov 2016 Huddersfield 1 Blues 1

Total meetings between Blues and Huddersfield Town...
Blues wins: 38
Draws: 33
Huddersfield wins: 41

Form guide last five Championship games...
Blues: DDLDD
Huddersfield Town: WWLLL

Line-ups last game...
Blues v Hull City: Camp, Pedersen, Clarke-Salter (Gordon, 87), Dean, Colin, Kieftenbeld (Bela, h/t), G Gardner, Bellingham, Crowley, Hogan, Jutkiewicz.
Subs (not used): Trueman, Harding, Gordon, Burke, Concannon, Stirk, Boyd-Munce, Reid.

Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield Town: Lossl, Toffolo, Schindler, Stearman (Stankovic, 70), Duhaney (Bacuna, 74), King, Hogg (Chalobah, 60), O’Brien, Pritchard (Rowe, 60), Willock (Campbell, 70), Grant.
Subs (not used): Coleman, Kachunga, Quaner, Daly.

Stay home, stay safe - you're Blues
The COVID-19 pandemic means matches have to be behind closed doors for the health and safety of supporters, club personnel and frontline services. Whilst we know how much it pains you not being there in person - and your backing can often make such a difference - we would respectfully ask supporters not to turn up at the stadium.We are sure you will respect these wishes and put the health of others foremost in your thoughts. Rigorous COVID-19 protocols will be in place around and in the St. Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium, which includes security and stewarding. You can still follow the lads in action, home and away, via our BluesTV live streaming service. With no games on Sky Sports and no red button service, it is the best way to see every kick of the remainder of our 2019/20 campaign.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Subscribers to BluesTV will be able to watch this game live. Click here for further information.

Match officials...
Referee Robert Jones will take charge of tonight's game. So far this season the Merseyside-based official has refereed 28 games, where he has produced a total of 95 yellow cards, no reds and awarded seven penalties. The last Blues game he refereed was our Championship away game against Blackburn Rovers in December 2019. Blues drew that match 1-1 and there were six players cautioned; including Kerim Mrabti, Kristian Pedersen and Gary Gardner for the visitors. Mr Jones has refereed three Blue sgames in total, with Blues drawing one of them and losing two. The last Huddersfield game he took charge of was their Championship  away fixture at Brentford in November 2019. Huddersfield won that game 1-0 and there were six players cautioned, including Danny Simpson, Tommy Elphick, Elias Kachunga, Jonathan Hogg and Adama Diakhaby for the visitors. He has refereed four Huddersfield games during his career, with the Terriers winning all of them. Mr Jones will be assisted tonight by Matt Foley and Daniel Leach, with Martin Coy acting as the fourth official.