David Wagner has called on his Huddersfield Town side to take the lessons of their 1-0 derby defeat by Sheffield Wednesday into Tuesday’s tough Championship match at Middlesbrough.
His side were beaten by Fernando Forestieri’s 83rd-minute strike at the John Smith’s Stadium and fell to 18th, still eight points above the drop zone, while Wednesday went fifth.
However the head coach was happy with the bulk of Town’s defending and wants them to go one better by blanking second-placed Boro at the Riverside.
Aitor Karanka’s team, including ex-Town duo Jordan Rhodes and Adam Clayton, have had an extra day to prepare, having won 3-2 at QPR on Friday.
Town have never won in five attempts at the Riverside, their last victory on Teesside turf coming 30 years ago, when Boro were based at Ayresome Park.
And Wagner admits there is a gap between his side and the promotion chasers in the second tier, as evidenced by Saturday’s setback.
“We saw there is a difference between us and the top teams,” he said.
“It is our work to make this distance closer and closer over the next months and years.
“From our perspective, we know this is not a sprint but a marathon. We have to go step by step and I thought we took a step forward with our defensive display.
“We had a strong performance against a good offensive side. We gave them only two opportunities, and our one lapse proved costly. Sheffield were clinical and so deserved the win.
“But on the other side we unable to create enough chances to hurt them. We didn’t give them enough problems.
“Now we have to try again on Tuesday to be successful against one of the top teams in the division. We have to learn from Saturday and we must bring more to our attack.”
The game will mark a first return to Middlesbrough for midfielder Dean Whitehead, who moved to Town from the Riverside last summer.
Former Town player Julian Winter will take up his post as the club’s new chief executive in succession to Nigel Clibbens on Monday.