Huddersfield Town were busy in the January transfer window as they looked to freshen up Carlos Corberan’s squad ahead of the second-half of the Championship season.
Rolando Aarons and Richard Keogh were solid additions to the squad, but perhaps the most eye-catching signing was swooping to bring Duane Holmes back to the club it all started for him at.
After impressing at Scunthorpe United, Derby County signed Holmes ahead of 2018/19. He reached the play-off final with the Rams in his first season but things began to become a struggle for him at Pride Park; an opportunity to sign him in January accelerated plans that Huddersfield had to do the transfer in the coming summer.
A season-ending injury to Carel Eiting also convinced Huddersfield to hit the gas with their pursuit of Holmes, who was signed up on a long-term contract.
We take a look at how things have panned out since Holmes returned:
How’s it gone so far?
It’s worth noting that Holmes has walked into a difficult situation at Huddersfield, who had already embarked on a long winless streak when he arrived at the John Smith’s Stadium. Corberan was also having to integrate fresh faces and young players to cover intense injuries, so it was hardly the ideal environment for Holmes to walk into.
Given that, you can probably say that Holmes’ return to Huddersfield has been a fairly steady so far.
He’s made 10 appearances, eight of which have come in the starting XI, and featured in a number of different roles for Corberan so far.
The 26-year-old has bagged two goals, both of which came in the impressive 4-1 victory over Swansea City, which helped end a worrying winless run.
Holmes’ first that day came as he broke into the penalty area, whilst his second was a beautiful long-range finish from the left-edge of the penalty area.
What issues does he face?
There are a couple of issues for Holmes right now, you feel.
The first is finding his best position in Corberan’s system.
When Holmes signed, Huddersfield had been having success with a 4-3-3 system, with Eiting part of the midfield unit alongside Lewis O’Brien and Jonathan Hogg. You imagined that Holmes would just replace the Dutchman.
However, Corberan has ripped up that blueprint and favoured a 3-5-2 system to get results on track, with Holmes used alongside (or just behind) Fraizer Campbell in something of a No.10 role in the attack – a tactic brought his goals against Swansea.
As recently as last week’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, Holmes had a stint at right wing-back.
A second issue is finding consistency.
Holmes was excellent in that win over Swansea, but too many other games since he signed have passed him by and you’d like to see more of the midfielder gripping the game with his progressive running and energy.
However, what can be said is that finding a consistent position in the side’s set-up, might well give Holmes the platform to become more consistent on the whole with his performances.
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The task lying at Huddersfield’s door right now is ensuring that they don’t slip any deeper into the relegation battle after the March international break.
From a personal point of view, Holmes will be looking to convince Corberan of his best position and then producing a couple of consistent performances there.
It’s worth remembering that Holmes, despite coming through the ranks at Huddersfield, is returning to a very different environment, which isn’t easy to adapt to.
He’s also come in through the January window, which is a tough window to move in and make an instant impact.
This transfer was pencilled in for the summer, but circumstances have pushed it forwards and, in many ways, made it a little bit more difficult for Holmes.
The 26-year-old needs to find consistency and a little bit more than what he’s been showing, but the other side of the bargain needs to be Huddersfield showing a little bit of patience with their January arrival.
We’ve seen enough to suggest this will be a success with time.