BENIK AFOBE is happy to admit Huddersfield has become his second home.
The on-loan Arsenal teenager says the support he’s had from Town’s players, staff and supporters has made it easy to settle in the town.
And he’s determined to say a big thank you by playing his part in a League I promotion push.
After two games on the road (the 1-0 win at Hartlepool and 1-1 draw at Yeovil) and with another two to follow (at Bristol Rovers on Saturday and Brentford a week tonight), Lee Clark’s side make a welcome appearance at the Galpharm against Rochdale tonight.
Afobe was given a rousing ovation when brought off late in Town’s last home game against Leyton Orient.
Now he wants to get the fans back on their feet by notching a first league goal.
“The response from the crowd against Orient meant so much,” said the 18-year-old Londoner, whose three Town strikes have all come in cup-ties.
“My aim is to work as hard as I possibly can and make the most of the opportunity Huddersfield have given to me, and it’s great to feel appreciated.
“I was chuffed to bits by the reaction, and would like to say a big thank you, not just for that but for the way they’ve been with me since I got here.
“Just like the rest of the players and the staff, they’ve been terrific. I’m enjoying my time here more than ever, and this really is like my second home.”
England junior international Afobe made his 20th Town appearance and 13th as a substitute at Yeovil, where he came on in place of hamstring injury victim Lee Novak for the second half.
Town, down to 10 men after Lee Peltier’s early sending off, were trailing 1-0, and he explained: “The manager told me to work hard, try to win as much possession as possible and try to get a goal back!
“I thought I’d got one, but their keeper made a good save, so I was a bit disappointed.
“We didn’t go there for a draw, but after losing a man so early and then going a goal down, we were delighted to come away with something.”
The point kept Town third, but Clark’s men are now eight points worse off than Brighton, who go to Brentford tonight, and four behind Bournemouth, who visit Exeter.
Peterborough, Southampton and MK Dons, 4-1 winners at Rochdale on Saturday, are hot on Town’s heels, but Afobe insisted: “We have to focus on ourselves.
“There’s still a lot of football to go, and most teams in the mix will drop points at some stage, but there’s no point worrying about the others.
“We just have to get as many points on the board as we can, which is why all our remaining games are massive, and see where it takes us.”
Rochdale roll into town having lost 4-1 at home to MK Dons on Saturday but unbeaten in 11 before that.
Having won promotion for the first time since 1969 last season they are 13th in the table and according to manager Keith Hill, capable of pushing for Championship status for the first time in the club’s history.
“The next five fixtures will be integral to whether or not we can challenge the likes of Huddersfield,” said the former Dale player.
“It’s great to be going into a game like tonight’s and like them, to have a chance of winning promotion.
“We are a long way from continual, year-after-year promotion challenging so this year may be our best chance.”