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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Let’s talk about…Huddersfield Town

It has been more than a month since Swansea last played a league game, but the Championship is back this weekend for Russell Martin’s men. They face a trip to Huddersfield, a side they faced back in September.

This weekend’s hosts currently find themselves in sixth place, although most teams in the Championship have at least one game in hand on them. Swansea are down in 17th but have played four fewer games than their next opponents.

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To find out more about Huddersfield, be sure to check out my previous piece on them on Planet Swans.

Their January transfer window so far

The Swans have had a busy window so far, with the permanent signing of Andy Fisher, loan signing of Cyrus Christie and departure of Ethan Laird. Morgan Whittaker and Liam Cullen have also left on loan, both joining Lincoln City in League One. Fisher’s arrival made way for Steven Benda to leave on loan, joining fellow Championship side Peterborough.

However, the same cannot be said for Huddersfield. They are yet to bring anyone in this month, with their only business being outgoing loans. They recalled Romoney Crichlow from League Two side Swindon Town, before immediately loaning him to Plymouth Argyle in League One.

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Their top scorer

Not to be confused with the Wales number one, Danny Ward has had a strong season for Huddersfield, with seven goals so far this season. The 31-year-old winger/forward is in his third spell with Huddersfield.

He began his career in the youth academy at Leeds United, before joining then-Premier League Bolton Wanderers in 2007. He went on to make two top-flight appearances for The Trotters but spent much of his time out on loan. He first joined Swindon Town in 2009, where he scored nine in 30 league outings for the League One side. That was followed with a brief loan spell at Coventry in the Championship, before a more productive loan to Huddersfield, then in League One.

After scoring three in seven games in the third-tier, Ward joined Huddersfield on a permanent deal. He made 39 appearances as they were promoted to the Championship in his first full season at the club. His first full campaign in the second tier was less prolific, but in 2013-14 he scored 10 in 38 games, finishing as the joint-highest scorer at the club.

Ward moved on loan to Rotherham midway through the 2014-15 season, with a view to a permanent deal. This was exercised within three days, as he joined the club for an undisclosed fee. His three goals in 15 outings were enough to steer Rotherham to safety.

He remained at the club for two more seasons. In 2016-17, he enjoyed his most productive campaign to date, scoring 11 goals in 41 Championship outings. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep The Millers in the second tier, as they finished rock-bottom.

However, Ward’s form caught the attention of Cardiff City, who bought him for £1.6 million in the summer of 2017. He was a rotation option in his first season, scoring 4 in 18 games as Cardiff secured promotion to the Premier League. They lasted just one season in the top flight, with Ward scoring once as they finished 18th. In his final season at the club, he scored seven in 28, before returning to Huddersfield in August 2020.

His first season back at Huddersfield was a difficult one. He missed the first ten games with injury, while also enduring long spells out of the first-team squad. However, he did feature in each of their final nine league games.

This season has proved to be far more productive. Ward has made 23 appearances, including 22 in the starting eleven. He has also scored seven goals, with three coming in the space of three games in December. He missed their most recent league outing with illness but could be available to feature this weekend.

Their Star Man

While Ward has led the team in terms of goals, Huddersfield have benefited greatly from the emergence of Sorba Thomas. The 22-year-old winger arrived from non-league side Boreham Wood last January.

He began his career at West Ham United but joined Boreham Wood’s youth academy in 2015. He made his senior debut in the National League in 2017-18, featuring in three league games before making two appearances in the play-offs.

The following season, he played 32 games in the fifth-tier, registering four assists, albeit many of his appearances came from the bench. He became a more regular figure in the 2019-20 season, scoring five goals in the process. After once again failing to achieve promotion to the Football League via the playoffs, Thomas remained at the club for the start of following campaign.

His final season at the non-league side was cut short, as he moved to Championship side Huddersfield in January. There, he made seven league appearances.

However, this season has seen Thomas make a significant step-up. So far, he has featured in all 26 of their games, scoring three and assisting eight. He also scored a penalty in their shootout win over Sheffield Wednesday in the EFL Cup and assisted both goals in their FA Cup third round win at Burnley.

His impressive form also earnt him a call-up to the Wales squad. Thomas qualified for Wales through his mother, who was born in Newport. He has registered two caps for the national side, making his debut in the 2-2 draw at Czech Republic before playing the full 90 minutes three days later at Estonia.

Thomas’ impressive season has also caught the attention of Premier League sides, with Watford said to be interested in a move for the Welsh playmaker. Swansea will need to be weary of his attacking threat this weekend.

Previous meeting

Saturday 25th September 2021

With both sides at opposite ends of the table after contrasting starts, Swansea welcomed Huddersfield to South Wales looking for their first league win of the season. Huddersfield meanwhile found themselves on the fringes of the play-offs, a huge improvement over their 20th-place finish in the previous campaign.

Swansea came into this game with three draws and one loss at home but opened the scoring after 17 minutes through Joel Piroe. The Dutch forward played a short pass to fellow summer signing Jamie Paterson, who eloquently dinked the ball over the Huddersfield defensive back-line. Piroe was there to slot home his fifth goal of the season.

Moments later, a pass from Ntcham found a wide-open Paterson, but his strike went just wide. Piroe came close to grabbing his second of the game but was denied by an excellent stop from Lee Nicholls. Swansea went into half-time as deserved leaders.

Huddersfield were much stronger in the second half, with Harry Toffolo coming close to equalising from a Sorba Thomas cross. However, they were unable to find a breakthrough, handing Swansea their first home league win of the season.

Final score – Swansea City 1-0 Huddersfield Town

Match Preview

After joining earlier this week, Andy Fisher and Cyrus Christie are both eligible for The Swans this weekend. Christie is likely to start after Ethan Laird’s re-call and subsequent re-loan to Bournemouth, while Fisher may be preferred to Ben Hamer in goal.

Elsewhere, Carlos Corberan has confirmed that Ryan Schofield will miss out this weekend, while Levi Colwill is a doubt for the game.

After a month without championship football, this will likely be a tough test for The Swans, especially as Huddersfield’s campaign has not faced the same interruptions. The hosts have played 26 games while Swansea have just 22 under their belt. The hosts will also be boosted by last weekend’s FA Cup triumph at Burnley, while Swansea suffered an extra-time loss at home to Southampton.

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Matt Williamshttps://mjwwrites.wordpress.com/
My name is Matt Williams. I am a 24-year-old journalism graduate and aspiring sports journalist from South Wales. I am a fan of Swansea City, and regularly write about the team on my own personal blog. I also support the Carolina Panthers, and I am an avid follower of the Welsh national teams in football and rugby.

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