After losing 3-0 against AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Barnsley face another tough task tomorrow night as they travel to Stoke City.
Michael O’Neill’s side currently sit 3rd in the Championship after recovering well with a victory against fellow high-flyers Huddersfield Town, following their disappointment against Fulham before the international break.
On paper, the Potters will be favourites to take all three points against Markus Schopp’s side who are way down in 17th, a far cry from where they were under former boss Valerien Ismael last term.
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The one bit of encouragement the Austrian can take from his opening six league games in charge is the fact the Tykes were near the bottom of the table at the beginning of the 2020/21 campaign too before their meteoric rise – and despite losing the likes of Alex Mowatt and Daryl Dike – they have retained the majority of their players from last season.
Polish international Michal Helik is just one of those players who will be hoping to guide the South Yorkshire side to a respectable finish after their heroics in the previous campaign, although their narrow escape from relegation in 2019/20 just shows how difficult this league remains.
A brighter future for them under manager Schopp could be on the horizon though if they come out victorious from tomorrow’s game (19:45) – and with this – we have selected our predicted lineup in their quest to beat the Potters.
Between the sticks, Brad Collins gets the nod again despite conceding three at the weekend and he will need to be on top of his game to keep out the likes of Steven Fletcher and Sam Surridge tomorrow, so he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
However, one person who is unlikely to be in the starting lineup is Ben Williams, who was forced off with an injury after being chopped down by Philip Billing at the weekend. Callum Styles reverts back to the left in his place.
Liam Kitching also remains out as he serves the second of his three-game suspension after receiving a retrospective ban from the FA, along with Mads Juel Andersen who didn’t even make the matchday for the game against the Cherries despite closing in on a return. He is likely to be on the bench at first when he does finally make his comeback.
In his place, Toby Sibbick starts again and Aapo Halme takes over from Jasper Moon to shake up what was a poor central defence at the weekend. Hopefully that can help to tighten things up at the back.
Callum Brittain retains his place on the right, with Claudio Gomes making his first start for the Tykes in place of Styles who now looks set to be on the left. He lines up alongside Romal Palmer – although it will be interesting to see what happens with Josh Benson after seeing him out of the squad on Saturday.
Captain Cauley Woodrow also starts and takes his place as the main man up top, although it’s vital he steps up to the plate tonight both in terms of going forward and defending from the front.
Either side of him, Aaron Leya Iseka comes in for Clarke Oduor to potentially provide more of an attacking threat – and Dominik Frieser takes his place on the other side.
Whether the Tykes can secure a win remains to be seen, but they could potentially benefit from making a few changes, even if it ruffles a few feathers. Perhaps this is what’s needed at this stage after a slow start to the 2021/22 campaign.
Predicted Substitutes: Walton, Moon, Andersen, Benson, Oduor, Cole, Adeboyejo