Barnsley will be hoping to make a real statement of intent to their fellow Championship relegation strugglers tonight as they take on promotion favourites West Bromwich Albion at Oakwell, looking to claim their first win under Poya Asbaghi.
This will be a tall order for the Tykes though, with two vital figures in their success from last term in former manager Valerien Ismael and ex-captain Alex Mowatt returning to South Yorkshire for the first time since their respective departures to The Hawthorns in the summer.
The Baggies, who had previously struggled to turn draws into victories, have now won two games on the bounce coming into this tie despite missing some of their key players against Coventry City and Reading.
Quiz: Have Barnsley signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?
In more bad news for this evening’s hosts, key defenders Semi Ajayi, Matt Clarke, Cedric Kipre and Conor Townsend are all available for selection after coming out of their isolation period, with the latter three the most likely to start as regular starters this term.
But the news in Asbaghi’s camp isn’t as promising, with captain Cauley Woodrow a doubt for this tie after sustaining a hip injury and may undergo a late fitness test to determine whether he’s in the right shape to be included in any form, let alone as a potential starter.
With this possible issue for the Tykes’ manager to deal with and other selection dilemmas to contend with, we have selected the starting lineup we think the 36-year-old will go with ahead of this tie.
One player that isn’t hard to pick is Brad Collins who continues between the sticks, even with Jack Walton expected to be back in time for tonight’s test after recovering from a training collision.
In front of Collins, the trio of Liam Kitching, Mads Andersen and Michal Helik remain as a settled back three and they will be hoping to win a clean sheet against the odds in this upcoming fixture.
The Baggies may have dominated their clash with the Royals last weekend, but they are still suffering from a severe lack of quality in the final third so there’s definitely an opportunity to keep the visitors at bay.
Their presence should help to give Callum Styles and Callum Brittain the license to push forward as two attacking threats – and it will be interesting to see whether the duo can prove to be deadly if crosses from the opposite fall to their feet.
The latter has already received the ball from the opposite flank in a dangerous position multiple times, so he’s one to keep an eye on.
The midfield duo also remains the same at the expense of Josh Benson, with Romal Palmer and Manchester City loanee Claudio Gomes forming the partnership in the middle of the park.
Palmer played a big part in the Tykes’ rise last term alongside Mowatt but he will be on the opposite side to his ex-midfield partner and skipper tonight.
The front line has been shaken up though with Woodrow a doubt for this tie. Asbaghi may not decide to risk him and with this, Victor Adeboyejo gets one more chance to show his worth, with the promising Aaron Leya Iseka coming in as another change in the front three to perhaps provide more of an attacking threat.