PAUL FUTCHER believes Huddersfield Town have the quality to put a promotion seal on their record unbeaten run to the play-offs.
The Holmfirth-based 54-year-old – who enjoyed a distinguished playing career spanning 26 years at all levels – has missed only one Galpharm game this season in his statistical work for the Press Association.
And he’s convinced Lee Clark’s squad have the strength in experience and conviction to emerge victorious from Old Trafford on May 29.
“I really can’t see Town failing to go all the way to Old Trafford and, ultimately, going up,” said Futcher, the former centre-back and manager who is now a tutor at Huddersfield New College.
“People say the play-offs are a lottery, but when you look at the other three teams involved (Bournemouth, MK Dons and Peterborough) they are all ones who you would expect Town to have a good chance of beating on any given day.
“I think Town have a better balance than last season and, while they are missing Anthony Pilkington, they still look a big threat going forward and have players who can deliver good quality.
“At the back, Peter Clarke has been outstanding. I’m a bit biased because I like my centre-halves, but he is a no-nonsense defender, a good leader and he’s vital for the team – a crucial player.
“Jordan Rhodes is a real threat in the box at the other end and the team have got goals in them, but above all else they’ve brought in Kevin Kilbane, who has shown his Premier League experience at vital times.
“When you look at the strength of the bench, it shows you the quality and the strength of the squad which Lee Clark has put together, and I think that will stand them in good stead.”
Respected Futcher – who was a fixture at Luton Town, Manchester City, Barnsley and Grimsby among other clubs, in addition to winning 11 England Under 21 caps – feels Town are now better placed for a shot at promotion than they were 12 months ago.
With the semi-final first leg against Bournemouth at Dean Court just three days away, Futcher explained: “Town have got the nous and experience, which I think is key.
“No matter which league you play in, at this stage of the season it’s vital, and Town have got that extra little bit of quality.
“If they turn up and perform as we know they can, then their strength in depth should tell.
“When you look at the first XI Town can put out, you would fancy them to beat any team on their day if they perform. Then you look at the strength on the bench as well.”
Futcher has already celebrated one promotion this season as son Ben, 29, was part of the Bury squad (also including Joe Skarz) who followed champions Chesterfield up from League II.
He spends most Saturdays, however, watching Town from the Galpharm press box.
“I supply stats of the matches for the Press Association and it’s very enjoyable,” he explained.
“It means being in constant touch with someone at PA headquarters in Howden and we give all the stats on goals, corners, shots, headers, everything.
“When a goal goes in and people see it at home flash up on television, that has come from me via the person on the computer at Howden.
“I enjoy it and, with Town being my hometown club so to speak, it’s great.”