TWO of Huddersfield Town’s unsung midfielders are hoping to get derby calls against Leeds United at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.
Chris Atkinson returned from his loan spell at Chesterfield and went on as a second-half substitute in the 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough, when Scott Arfield and Anton Robinson went into the starting line-up as replacements for suspended duo Adam Clayton and Keith Southern.
Clayton will be back against his old club this weekend, but 20-year-old Atkinson and Arfield, 24, are keen to make the 12.30 kick-off.
Manager Simon Grayson – who seems unlikely to have James Vaughan fit but could push Jermaine Beckford and Sean Scannell towards the derby – believes Atkinson did well at the Riverside, when former Town loan player Scott McDonald scored twice for Boro in front of 1,115 visiting fans.
Grayson said: “I had no problems putting Chris into the squad because he is a good player.
“He has grown up a lot thanks to his loan move to Chesterfield and I had no hesitation in putting him on as early as I did (54 minutes).
“Youthful exuberance and energy can take you a long way and I thought he did okay. He passed the ball around nicely and gave us an extra dimension in midfield.”
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Arfield made only his second start of the season at Boro and played the whole 90 minutes, but he doesn’t know if he’ll be cut amid changes which could involved Anthony Gerrard being given a midfield anchor role.
“From a personal point of view it was good to get my second start of the season, but obviously the result was disappointing. Collectively we never really showed up,” said Arfield.
“We’re professional footballers regardless of what game we’re in, and from a personal standpoint I didn’t play anywhere near as well as I can. That’s my fault – it’s no one else’s.
“I think what the Gaffer has built here is a very good – established a Championship team.
“Even the boys on the fringes have great ability, everything is done at high intensity and to a very high standard. It’s good to be involved in that.
“Obviously I want to play in every game but sometimes you have to sit back and believe that your chance will come, like mine did (at Boro).
“Unfortunately I didn’t play anywhere as well as I hoped and expected, but roll on Saturday now – hopefully I’m involved.”
Click on the link below to view a gallery of Town fans who made the trip to Middlesbrough: Are you pictured?Related content
So will Town be up for the clash with their West Yorkshire rivals on home soil and in front of a passionate crowd?
“It’s definitely the right game for us after this (the Boro defeat),” answered Arfield.
“If there’s one game that you want to come now, this is it.
“The fans will be right up for it, as will the players, so it has all the makings of a great derby. We still have the belief in our squad.”