Huddersfield head coach David Wagner admits it is time for star man Aaron Mooy to recharge his batteries and take a well-earned rest.
Australia international Mooy, key to the Terriers’ Premier League survival chances, is expected to be one of several changes for Saturday’s home FA Cup tie against Birmingham.
“Even I have seen that he looked tired in the past two games,” Wagner said. “We have managed it individually in training.
“We have to make the right decision in the next games. We have to get him back to his best because he is an important player.”
Mooy’s all-action midfield displays were pivotal last season as Huddersfield won promotion via the play-offs, but there was no let-up for the club’s player of the year in the summer.
The 27-year-old joined up with his Australia team-mates for the Confederations Cup in Russia and racked up more air miles in October and November as the Socceroos won their play-offs against Honduras and Syria to book a fourth straight appearance at the World Cup finals.
If his batteries were running on empty he did not show it, returning for the club’s first season in the Premier League and maintaining form as the Terriers continued to defy the odds.
But in recent weeks it all looks to have caught up with the midfielder. His influence on games has waned as the Terriers’ top-flight run without a win was extended to six matches.
“I have had conversations with him and he is very self critical,” Wagner added. “We have to get him back to his best.
“There are no arguments between him and me about his performances. I think we should not forget that he has been a big performer for us.”
Wagner made wholesale changes for his side’s third-round win at Bolton and will do so again for the visit of Sky Bet Championship strugglers Birmingham.
The German confirmed Joel Coleman will replace Jonas Lossl in goal, but said he would decide after training on Friday on exactly how to rotate his squad.
Fit-again Dane Philip Billing and Abdelhamid Sabiri are among those vying for a start in midfield, while the likes of Terence Kongolo, Michael Hefele, club captain Tommy Smith and Collin Quaner could also feature.
“I would not view both competitions as connected, they are separate from each other,” added Wagner, when asked if a good cup run could boost their relegation fight.
“The Premier League, we are in the position we are, with 10 teams fighting for survival.
“The FA Cup is a second competition where we hope to get to the next round. I can separate these two competitions from each other. It’s important we focus only on this competition for Saturday.
“I’m sure we won’t make the mistake of judging Birmingham on the table. They have had their problems, but we will give them all the respect they deserve.”