DETERMINED boss Simon Grayson has told all his players to be cut-throat in their approach this season as Huddersfield Town kick-off at Preston tonight in the Capital One Cup.
The senior roster – which has lost Antony Kay to MK Dons and Jamie McCombe to Doncaster this weekend – will be missing Jordan Rhodes, Joel Lynch, Sean Scannell, Oliver Norwood and Murray Wallace for the first-round tie at Deepdale (7.45).
It means the likes of latest arrival Anthony Gerrard could well get a chance, along with emerging striker Jimmy Spencer, but Grayson says the first competitive match of the new season is important for all sorts of reasons.
"Having four players away limits your choices, obviously, but whoever plays will be giving it their all," said Grayson.
"Firstly, we want to win and progress in the competition and, secondly, they know there is a big carrot at the end of the week with the first Championship match of the season against Cardiff.
"If you get in the team for the first match of the season then that is your shirt to lose. If you get in for the first game of the season and keep doing well, then you could have that shirt for the next 40 weeks.
"The lads have been told this and they can’t wait to get cracking. I have told them not to read anything into the teams we have been putting out so far in pre-season, this is their opportunity to stake a claim."
Town have cut their wage bill by agreeing to cancel the contract of Jamie McCombe, who has joined Doncaster Rovers on a two-year deal.