Friday 22 February 2019

We are on track to survive - but we have to improve, says Wagner

David Wagner acknowledges the fans after a hard-fought point against Burnley
David Wagner acknowledges the fans after a hard-fought point against Burnley

Huddersfield head coach David Wagner wants his side to launch 2018 with an improved performance at Leicester on New Year's Day.

The Terriers were below-par in Saturday's goalless home draw against Burnley, but after eking out another crucial point Wagner is satisfied they are on course to achieve their sole aim and retain their Premier League status.

"It's all about survival," Wagner said after his side closed 2017 in 11th place in the table, six points clear of the relegation zone.

"This chapter we started with the first game of the Premier League, I think we are on track, not more.

"We know we have to improve. We're on a good starting point to achieve our target, to survive in the Premier League, not more, not less. Anything else is totally irrelevant."

Four straight defeats in November after a spirited start to their first season in the Premier League brought the Terriers' survival fight into sharp focus.

But Wagner's side have responded in December, collecting nine points from their last six matches with two wins, one defeat and draws in each of their last three.

"They have shown - and this is one of their biggest strengths I think - they are able to bounce back even after heavy defeats or periods with four defeats in a row," said the German.

"This is a quality which is special and which you have to have to make you independent from the circumstances.

"We still know what we have to do to survive. How many points? No idea. Which place? No idea. It's not interesting for me.

"If it's higher up the table, good. If not, good as well if we stay up. This is what it's all about. "

Wagner made three changes for the visit of Burnley and is likely to rotate his squad again at the King Power Stadium.

Defender Florent Hadergjonaj was replaced at half-time on Saturday after taking a knock and will be assessed, while striker Steve Mounie, right-back Tommy Smith and left-back Chris Lowe are pushing for recalls.

Centre-half Michael Hefele returned to the bench against Burnley after a three-month lay-off due to an Achilles injury.

But Wagner said the German still needs a couple of run-outs with the Under-23s, while m idfielder Philip Billing (ankle) is 10-14 days away from a return to full training.

Wagner, linked with a move for Monaco defender Terence Kongolo, added: "The window is open in the next 48 hours and we have our eye on the market.

"If we can and it makes sense, then we will try to do something. If not, I'm happy with my squad. This squad has delivered so far."

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