Joe Lolley has gone from bit-part player to 90-minute man as he heads into his third year at Huddersfield Town - with more than a little help from head coach David Wagner.

Restricted mainly to appearances from the bench - then loaned out to Scunthorpe United - under Chris Powell, the forward has flourished since the German’s November arrival.

The 23-year-old former Kidderminster Harriers player has scored three times and featured in all but one of Wagner’s games in charge, missing the last home Championship match, against Cardiff City, through illness.

Lolley, who cost £300,000 in January 2014, when Mark Robins was Town manager, has started 13 of the other 16 in league and FA Cup, and seven times completed the full game - not bad for someone the boss said wasn’t fit enough three months ago.

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Former Borussia Dortmund second team coach Wagner said: “I told him I’d worked with a lot of talents over the past four or five years in Germany and he would be one of the best.

“But he wasn’t fit enough and often didn’t have the right attitude to be a professional football player.

“He had to make a decision if he would like to make a few steps in his career – and it looks like he has made the decision that he does.”

It was later clarified that Wagner wasn’t questioning Lolley’s attitude in the literal sense, but referring to his self-confidence.

And the former student, who rebuilt his career after being released by Birmingham City at 16, says Wagner’s appointment turned out to be a real shot in the arm for him.

“Before the coach came in, I hadn’t completed 90 minutes for the club,” explained Lolley, who made a massive step up the football ladder when he joined Kidderminster from Midlands minnows Littleton in August 2013.

“That’s changed, and it feels great to be seen as somebody who is contributing something to the club.”

Lolley had made only five Town starts pre-Wagner.

“I think the change is down to two things, improved fitness and the belief the coach has shown in me and given me,” he added.

“He has given me starts and kept me on in games, and that continuity has been really helpful.

“I used to be worried whether I would stay on or about cramping up, but now I know I can get through a full game, and that feels great.

“When the coach came in, he said I wasn’t fit enough, which was true.

“His sessions are intense, but they are effective, and he looks after his players well.

“And the style of the football is great.,

“With the ball I have the licence to roam to try and get things going.

“We are all expected to play our part defensively, and I feel I have improved in that area as well.”

Lolley’s CV now shows 18 Town starts, 27 substitute appearances, and seven goals in all.

“The progress this time is in line with what I had hoped for, although it hasn’t happened the way I thought it might,” continued the lifelong Aston Villa


“I thought I had a good pre-season, so to not find myself in the team in the early games was tough.

“It’s nice to be finally playing games. I’ve always wanted to work hard for this club and now I’ve been given the