By Laurie Fitzgerald

If there’s one thing that can be said about the congested look at the top of the League One table, it’s that it is shaping up to be a very exciting chase for promotion.

While there are teams just outside the play-off spots that look off the pace, the games in hand due to the bad weather throughout December means there is plenty still to play for.

Having already looked at the likes of Brighton and Hove Albion, Peterborough United, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic, it’s only fair that we look at the team that’s currently occupying one of the automatic promotion spots – Huddersfield Town.

The Terriers may have played more games than those around them, but they find themselves in second, a point clear of Bournemouth and just four points behind leaders Brighton, well in the promotion mix.

This is reward following a summer where manager Lee Clark looked to shape his squad to ensure the right blend of quality and experience. Having missed out on achieving Championship football last season following the heartache of the play-offs, Clark looked to bring in those that would take Huddersfield onto that next level.

Joey Gudjonsson and Gary Naysmith were brought in on free transfers to add more nous to the squad, as well as loaning former Birmingham and Northern Ireland midfielder Damian Johnson from Plymouth Argyle.

Midfielder Scott Arfield was signed from Falkirk to support the likes of Anthony Pilkington in the creativity department, while Alan Lee and Joe Garner were brought in to add more depth to the attack.

This balance within the squad has allowed Town to have a more sustained promotion push this season. They have made the Galpharm a tough place to go, despite a couple of surprise losses to the likes of Hartlepool United and Bristol Rovers. Teams such as Southampton, Charlton and Wednesday have all come away with nothing from their travels there this season.

But it’s away from home where this new experience has paid dividends. They’ve already won 7 games away from home this campaign, while last year Huddersfield won nine and suffered 11 defeats on the road. Their 4-2 win away at Walsall on Saturday was yet another example that they are no longer pushovers on their travels.

While the likes of right back Lee Peltier and centre half Peter Clarke have played their part in defence, and Gudjonnson and Johnson showing the necessary steel from midfield, as well as special mentions to Arfield and Gary Roberts, there have been two players that have really caught the eye.

Pilkington has been without doubt one of the players of the League One season so far. It’s not just his 11 goals from midfield that have impressed, but it’s the 22 year-old’s ability to cause continual problems for the opposition on a consistent basis that has played a big part for the Terriers throughout the campaign.

Up front, Jordan Rhodes has been a real find by Clark. With 16 goals so far this season at the age of just 20, there is no doubt that Rhodes has a hugely promising future in front of him, and is crucial to Huddersfield if they want to progress forward. Gems such as Rhodes and Charlie Austin at Swindon Town are becoming much harder to discover.

With the undoubted experience (Kevin Kilbane has recently joined on loan from Hull for the rest of the season) the craft of Pilkington and Arfield and the prolific goalscoring of Rhodes, there’s no doubt that Clark has the tools at his disposal to take Huddersfield Town onto the next level.

38 year-old Clark has carved out a reputation for being an intelligent and highly-respected young manager, and for him to gain even more acclaim he needs a promotion to his name.

For Clark and for Huddersfield, there’s every chance that can be just a few months away.

So what do you think? Huddersfield fans, do you think this squad has what it takes to gain promotion this season? How good are the likes of Pilkington and Rhodes, and how important is Lee Clark? Let us know

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