Swansea City's 'unsung' hero and the key to Huddersfield Town win as Russell Martin gives trio of injury updates for Fulham test

Russell Martin admitted Swansea City’s improved intensity was key to their 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

The Swans took all three points thanks to Joel Piroe’s first-half strike at the Swansea.com Stadium as Martin tasted his first home Championship success of the campaign.

Swansea controlled proceedings for long periods and restricted the Terriers to zero shots on target in south Wales, despite the fact their energy levels dropped as the second half wore on.

And 35-year-old head coach Martin says his side should have been out of sight after a fine first half showing in Swansea.

“It was more tense than it should have been second half. I think the first half was outstanding. Some of the play, the intensity we played at, the way we pressed, how many times we won the ball high up the pitch,” he said.

“We played against a team that is excellent and are conditioned to play that way – their energy didn’t drop and ours did a little bit. I think that’s the biggest difference between the two teams.

“But we should score more goals in the first half and that makes the second half a lot easier. We’ve limited a really good team to no shots on target. The players have done that with desire and effort.

“We should have more control in the second half but that’s coming. I have said to you all the way along – I am not blagging you or using it as an excuse, once we are conditioned to where we want to be – hopefully you will see the first-half performance for much longer periods.”

Piroe’s sixth goal of the campaign ultimately proved enough for the Swans as they stretched their unbeaten league run to four matches.

Flynn Downes was instrumental to his side’s impressive defensive effort as the former Ipswich Town man played a significant role in ensuring the Swans kept their fifth clean sheet in nine Championship outings.

“He was incredible, it’s really difficult to single people out but he does the dirty work really well which sometimes goes unsung,” said Martin when asked about Downes.

“He enables people to do their roles brilliantly, he plays with no ego at all and knows exactly what his role in the team is and Kyle Naughton and the boys at the back appreciate him a lot – I know I would’ve if I’d had someone like Flynn playing in front of me.

“It’s his willingness to learn, his attitude and attention to detail. He’s playing a very different role to the one he played at his previous club as most of the guys are, but his willingness to learn, desire to win, his athleticism and improving technical ability is brilliant to see.”

Swansea return to action against Fulham on Wednesday night.

They are set to welcome Rhys Williams and Ryan Bennett back to their squad for the game at Craven Cottage, although striker Michael Obafemi is expected to miss out due to a muscle injury.

“Ryan Bennett took a knock on Wednesday in a training group whilst we were away [at Brighton] which is frustrating and disappointing,” said the head coach when asked about the absentees in the Huddersfield win.

“He’ll be back very soon, I expect him to be back on Wednesday.

“Michael will take a little bit longer. He felt a muscle late on at Luton. We have to be careful because of his injury history and lack of pre-season, we have to take that a bit slower than we’d like.

“Hopefully he’ll be fit for Derby, or if not, the derby [Cardiff].

“Rhys knows where we’re at, we’ve had a lot of conversations. He trained brilliantly this morning. It’s been a very tough time for him that can’t be understated or underappreciated.

“We just felt it was maybe the time for him to have a break, reassess and watch the game with a different lens.

“We know he’s going to be fantastic, but every game is different and every situation is different. He’ll come back refreshed and ready.”

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