Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner is braced for the biggest matches of his fledgling managerial career.
The Terriers entertain Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday. The second leg takes place at Hillsborough next Wednesday.
The two Yorkshire clubs are bidding to reach the Wembley final on Monday, May 29.
When asked if Huddersfield’s up-and-coming clashes with Wednesday are the most important of his career, Wagner said: “As a manager? Yes.
“I did have a very big game with Dortmund second team, when we got promoted. We had to win the last game of the season and we did that 5-3. The biggest in my manager’s career so far but these are the biggest games since I arrived in Huddersfield.
“I played some big games as a player for America or the semi-final with Schalke.”
Speaking at his press call yesterday, Wagner revealed he had called up his long-time friend Jurgen Klopp to get some tips on handling, big, two-legged ties. Wagner worked closely with the Liverpool chief at Borussia Dortmund when he managed the German club’s second team. Wagner says Klopp was only too happy to help.
He said: “We spoke today by ‘phone and, of course, he wished us all the best for the play-offs.
“I have spoken with him about the experience he has in two legged games. He has a lot of experience from the Champions League and the Europa League. It is very important that we make sure we are in the game.
“For this, we have to perform from the first second.”
Wagner, who has reportedly been linked with a number of clubs in England and in his homeland, said: “I am totally sure if he has time and not playing himself, he will watch the game.
“From the football side, everyone knows we love exactly the same style. We prefer the same idea of football.
“Of course, he influenced me. We worked closely together over such a long time. You get some thoughts and views, and if they make sense then you add them to your ideas.
“Football side, we have the same idea about what the perfect game should look like. And the style we both love.”
Elias Kachunga, pictured inset, is set to return following a four-match absence due to a calf injury.
“He has been back in training since yesterday,” said Wagner. “He has been involved 100 per cent with our training routines.
“All the players have come back to training without issues, apart from the long-term injuries - Kasey Palmer, Jon Gorenc Stankovic and Philip Billing.”
Huddersfield will be without suspended shot-stopper Danny Ward following his red card against Cardiff City last weekend. Joel Coleman will deputise in between the sticks.