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One step at a time for Carlos Corberan and Huddersfield

Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan sees his team take on Luton Tim Goode/PA)
Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan sees his team take on Luton Tim Goode/PA)

Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan is not getting carried away at the prospect of playing at Wembley as his side prepare to face Luton in the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-finals.

The Terriers ended the regular Championship campaign as one of the in-form teams heading into the play-offs after winning six of their last seven games, helping them to a third-placed finish behind the promoted duo of Fulham and Bournemouth.

Town were last promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs in the 2016-17 season, when they defeated Reading in a penalty shoot-out, but Corberan is only focused on the primary task in hand against Luton on Friday.

The 39-year-old told a press conference: “It (playing at Wembley) is not something that’s in our minds.

“We’re going to play a very strong and competitive team over 180 minutes and we know we need to perform at our best level for two games over 90 minutes, and in our minds there is no time to be thinking about the future, we need to think about the present.

“When you analyse the teams that we could have played in the play-off, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest or Luton, the only team that we did not win playing away to was Luton, this is one key example.

“I know how difficult it will be, my players know exactly the same and we know that if we have any chance of getting to Wembley we need to perform on Friday at our best level.

Friday’s encounter at Kenilworth Road will be the second time Corberan has been involved in the play-offs.

The first time came in 2019 as an assistant manager to Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds when they were beaten 4-3 on aggregate by Derby in the semi-final, despite taking a 1-0 lead from Pride Park in the first leg.

However, even though dark memories remain of that day at Elland Road, Corberan believes there was a lot to learn from the experience as he prepares to tackle the challenge as a head coach for the first time.

He explained: “In my first year with Leeds, we were playing against Derby and were eliminated in that game.

“Sometimes you learn even more when things are not going well, rather than when things go perfectly.

“For myself it’s different because it’s not the same to be assistant coach and a head coach, the impact of decisions is not the same as assistant, you can support.

“It would not be necessary to support as a head coach, it is the opposite because you are making the decisions based on how you see your team.”

Huddersfield have known about their play-off security for some time, which has given some players the opportunity to audition for a place in the starting XI over the last few games.

With question marks over the fitness of key players such as Lewis O’Brien, Sorba Thomas and Matty Pearson, it gives the chance for others to step up to the occasion.

In recent games, Corberan has handed out appearances to more fringe players in the camp in case their services are called upon over the next week or so but the Spaniard knows he has some tough decisions to make with the selection of his preferred XI.

“I think all the squad know that I will go tomorrow with all my players to the game, and I will be full of confidence of any player on that football pitch,” he added.

“But unfortunately I do have to make tough and maybe sometimes unfair decisions to leave players out.

“I need to leave some players at home who perfectly could play in the first 11…and some of these players were competing really well.

“For me, all my squad is part of this achievement and I will be full of confidence with any of my players tomorrow.”