Wagner happy with tough start to season
Nahki Wells will visit two relegated Premier League clubs in the space of three days in the second week of the new Sky Bet Championship season, after the new fixtures pitted Huddersfield Town against Newcastle United and Aston Villa in mid-August.
Wells, still recovering from a knee injury that ruled him out of Bermuda's two matches against Dominican Republic and French Guiana in the second round of the Caribbean Cup, is fighting to be fit for the start of the campaign.
Huddersfield begin their season at home to Brentford on August 6, before playing away at Newcastle and Villa on August 13 and 16. They then end the month with home matches on against Barnsley and Wolves on consecutive weekends.
The fixture list is one of the trickiest in the championship, but David Wagner, the Huddersfield coach, is happy to be facing the likes of Newcastle and Villa early on. Newcastle are early 2-1 favourites to win the league and gain promotion at the first attempt.
Wagner is determined that his players, who report for pre-season training on Friday, will be up to the challenge as they aim to improve on last year mid-table finish.
“I like the fixtures, they make the new season feel closer,” Wagner said on the Huddersfield Examiner website.
“At the end you always have to accept what you get, but my wish was to get the big names at the beginning of the season. We've got that — especially with away games at Newcastle, Aston Villa and then Leeds United — so everything is okay.
“The other things in my head I would prefer are to start off with a home game and to be at home on Boxing Day, so I'm very happy.
“We know we will have to be there from the very first second, but that is exactly what we are working for, starting this Friday.”
Six new faces will be joining the first team squad, with more set to arrive before the transfer window closes as Huddersfield try to hold on to Wells, their 18-goal leading scorer, who is attracting interest from other clubs.
“I know every manager wants to have his group of players together for the first day of pre-season, but this never happens,” Wagner said.
“Very often — nearly always — you only get your whole team together shortly before the window closes, but I'm very happy with what we have already done.
“We are not finished. We still have some positions open in our squad and that isn't a problem for me, as the window has a long way to go.
“Sometimes some interesting players come onto the market towards the end of the window, so I'm totally relaxed.
“We start our pre-season on Friday, but I'm sure we will still bring some more signings to the squad during the window.”
Rai Simons's Chesterfield begin their campaign in League One away to Oxford on August 6, before hosting Swindon Town the following weekend and then playing at home three days later to Walsall, the club that just signed Bermudian Milan Butterfield, a 6ft 4in midfielder, on a one-year contract.
Reggie Lambe, who recently joined Carlisle United from Mansfield Town, will play for his new team away to Portsmouth on August 6, before home games against Plymouth Argyle and Cheltenham Town.