BARNSLEY midfielder Jacob Mellis sees no reason why the Reds can’t string together another unbeaten run to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.
Saturday’s 5-0 FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Manchester City was especially hard to swallow as the Reds slipped back to the bottom of the Championship table as fellow strugglers Bristol City and Peterborough United picked up points to jump ahead of them in the league.
But manager David Flitcroft and his side do have two games in hand on some of the teams above them and are understandably hungry to get back to business with a home game against Brighton at Oakwell tomorrow night.
And another home game on Saturday, against Watford, gives the Reds’ the perfect platform to give their supporters something to shout about after their recent disappointments.
“We’ve got 11 games left and now we’ve got to start picking up some wins,” stressed Mellis.
“We’ve got three home games coming up, so with the fans behind us I think we can hopefully pick up some points in those games.
“Maybe it will go to the wire, but we’re just focused on ourselves and getting our own points.
“We knew that our [nine-game] unbeaten run would come to and end, but it’s up to use to get on another run over the next 11 games.
“I wouldn’t say Brighton are similar to Manchester City, but they’re a possession-based team and we need to bounce back there.
“We’ve done well to get to the quarter-finals, but we’ve got to get back to the league and getting the points we need.”
Mellis was perhaps surprisingly left out of the starting line-up for Saturday’s defeat to City – and Flitcroft admitted afterwards he should have started with the former Chelsea playmaker.
“I’ll agonise over that decision that decision,” said Flitcroft.
But Mellis said he wasn’t too disappointed not to have started and was happy to do a job as a second half substitute for his manager.
“It’s not about me, it’s not about any individual, it’s all about the team,” added Mellis. “I trust the gaffer’s team selection. Flicker is an honest man. I’m enjoying playing under him; all the boys are. I’ll just work hard in training and see where it takes me.
“Our team spirit is great. We’re all a team whether we’re playing or we’re on the bench. We have to get back on it against Brighton and try and get the three points.”
Flitcroft could welcome back midfielder Stephen Dawson for the visit of the Seagulls, but it’s highly likely that Mellis will get the nod in the centre of midfield.
“It’s great to have Dawson back, it’s like a new signing,” said Mellis. “It’s welcome competition because we’ve missed Daws’ energy in midfield and he’s good on the ball as well, so it is like a new signing for us. He’s the player we need back for our last 11 games.”
Defender Jimmy McNulty is expected to be sidelined for at least another week with a ankle injury, while keeper Ben Alnwick has a dead leg. Midfielder Paul Digby (hip) and defender Scott Golbourne (knee) are also unavailable.