Wagner inspired by Huddersfield’s history ahead of secong leg tie against Owls

Huddersfield boss David Wagner

Huddersfield boss David Wagner hopes his players will be inspired by the last Terriers team to play top-flight football as they look to reach Wembley.

Sunday’s 0-0 draw at the John Smith’s Stadium means the semi-final tie is finely poised ahead of Wednesday’s return leg at Hillsborough when one of the two Yorkshire clubs will book a trip to the Championship play-off final.

Both have endured lengthy absences from English football’s uppermost division, though the wait has been longer for Huddersfield, who have been outside the top flight for the past 45 years.

An image of that 1971-72 squad normally hangs on a wall at Huddersfield’s training ground, but prior to the first encounter with the Owls it was used by Wagner as a visual indication of the historic feat his current players could achieve.

“I used it in my final meeting before we met Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday,” the German revealed.

“It was to visualise to the players how far away it was – the last time they were in the Premier League. They agreed that it’s time to maybe write a new chapter for this football club.”

Wagner is anticipating another tight affair similar to the stalemate which unfolded on Sunday and a repeat scoreline would ensure extra-time and eventually penalties take place to determine who goes to Wembley.

The Terriers boss believes the prospect of extra-time would be “more of an advantage than a disadvantage” for a Huddersfield side that pride themselves on high fitness levels, while Wagner was quick to note the dreaded shoot-out scenario is not so daunting back in his homeland.

“You cannot practise a penalty shoot-out, in my opinion,” he added.

“This is a totally different atmosphere if you come to a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals. We are pretty confident that we are able to put the ball into the net from 12 yards.

“We have enough Germans in our team and everybody knows Germans are able to win penalty shoot-outs!”

Wagner also confirmed goalkeeper Danny Ward, who is available again following suspension, would replace Joel Coleman in his team, provided the Welshman overcame the illness that prevented him from training on Monday.

Wednesday are chasing a second successive play-off final while Huddersfield have been the division’s surprise package, even to Wagner, after four bottom-half finishes.

“When I started here 18 months ago, I did not have it in my head that this was possible 18 months further on,” Wagner admitted.

“That you will be in the semi-finals of the play-offs, with a draw in the first leg, and there’s a real chance for the final, I didn’t have this in my head.

“I didn’t have this in my head after pre-season this season. The first time I really thought we had a chance was around Christmas – I thought we had a real chance to come into the top six. The consistency this team has shown over the whole season is something extraordinary.”