Mark Robins and his Huddersfield Town squad are currently in the Algarve at the Vale de Lobo complex, steadily building up their fitness ahead of the 2014/2015 Championship season, which starts in just 23 days' time.

After taking on SC Portimonense at the Estadio Da Nora in Albufeira this weekend, Town will return to the UK for fixtures against AFC Guiseley, Scunthorpe United, Sheffield United, Oldham Athletic before rounding off their pre-season preparations by welcoming Newcastle United to the John Smith's Stadium.

Town have already secured two behind-closed-doors friendly wins so far, with a 3-1 win over Cypriot side AEL Limassol followed up by a triumph over Doncaster Rovers in Portugal by the same scoreline.

But with the first pre-season friendly proper on the horizon, Robins will know he has decisions to make during the course of the next few weeks.

Town have already added Joe Murphy and Lee Peltier to their squad, and are hopeful of adding more, although they remain wary of interest from Middlesbrough in midfielder Adam Clayton.

Here's a rundown of five issues the manager will have to resolve before the new season gets underway.

Goalkeeper

Alex Smithies has established himself as Town's undisputed, unmovable No.1.

And rightly so. Since saving the penalties in the 2012 play-off final which helped Town achieve promotion to the Championship, the 24-year-old has simply refused to look back.

He displaced Ian Bennett and kept it that way with a series of consistent performances under Simon Grayson and then Robins, with Bennett moving into a coaching capacity after his release at the end of 2013/2014.

Joe Murphy has arrived to fill the void, but the Republic of Ireland international will not be as keen to warm the bench on a regular basis.

Murphy has designs on breaking into the starting lineup and, though Smithies is firmly expected to start the season in goal, the homegrown shot-stopper now has the sort of competition he has possibly lacked in recent times.

It is a welcome problem for Robins, who will hope to field both during pre-season and extracting the best form possible from both.      

 

Adam Clayton

Speculation is rife that Middlesbrough will return to the negotiating table to try and prise Town's Player of the Year away from the John Smith's Stadium, but Town are hardly entertaining any further offers.

Likewise, Clayton does not appear set to try and force through a move and is content with life with the Terriers, having picked up the gauntlet last season in the club's bid to stave off relegation to League One.

It was something they achieved, in part, due to Clayton's contribution from midfield, with his knack for goalscoring and creating helping to compensate for the lack of firepower James Vaughan's injury troubles brought about.

Any potential sale would present Town with significant funds in the window, however, and a potential replacement could have already been lined up if reports linking the club with Walsall midfielder Sam Mantom prove correct.

The rumours surrounding Clayton's future also ensure Robins will have to build contingency plans in the event of the midfielder's exit.

While any such plans will not be actively put into place while Clayton remains a committed and determined member of this Town side, it will be a niggling pain in the back of the manager's head as he gets his side ready for the new campaign.

Formation

Lee Peltier's arrival from Leeds could help Robins facilitate his penchant for a 5-3-2 formation with more regularity next season, as he now boasts a conventional right-back, right wing-back, central defender and defensive midfielder all in one.

The tag 'utility man' should not be deemed derogatory in this context; Peltier's adaptability to various positions can be a crucial factor in Robins' plans for the new season.

Adam Hammill put in a series of admirable performances in a more defensive position but ultimately, his strengths lie further up the field, as his 10 assists last term will attest.

The presence of Peltier and Dixon on either flank of a three-man defence would offer Town additional defensive protection plus the ability to change things within a game.

While it could be argued that there is a need for a more settled XI and formation, Robins will want to keep as many options open to himself and the addition of Peltier allows him to do that.

Each opposing side requires a different gameplan and Town are slowly but surely beginning to hold the cards needed to chop and change when they need to.

James Vaughan

Town's top scorer across the last two seasons suffered from injury last term and his 2013/2014 was brought to a premature end when he went under the knife to have a cyst removed from his knee.

The positive news is that Vaughan is back playing and banging in the goals too, indicating that he may for once be over his injury ills.

Having spent the summer in the US in his rehabilitation from the injury, Town's star striker is now expected to play his part from the outset in 2014/2015.

But equally, his progress must be monitored meticulously over the coming weeks as competition levels rise and the new season draws closer.

After all, Robins will hope to have his most lethal forward player fit on a more regular basis next season.

And that could involve easing him into the side in the early stages of 2014/2015 to make sure he's fully fit and firing across that longer period but the presence of the exciting Nahki Wells should aid this.

Martin Paterson            

One of the most intriguing elements sitting atop Robins' in tray is the future of the enigmatic Martin Paterson.

Having burst onto the scene over the festive period with five goals in seven league games and an FA Cup strike at Grimsby Town, Paterson was proving a more than able deputy for Vaughan.

The arrival of Wells altered the landscape of Paterson's role at Town significantly though, and in March he was shipped off on loan to Bristol City for the remainder of the campaign.

The move to the West Country could have represented the opportunity of a fresh start but it never truly happened for the Northern Irishman and he remains on Town's books.

But the signs are more positive than they are negative, especially judging by Paterson's goalscoring contribution in the 3-1 win over Doncaster at PPG Canalside last weekend.

Like another player who has been linked with a move elsewhere in Sean Scannell, Paterson is determined to make an impression on everyone at the club and fight for his future. Pre-season offers him the perfect platform to do just that.

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