Barnsley: Mellon sweating over Paddy’s fitness

Paddy McCourt
Paddy McCourt
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Barnsley caretaker boss Micky Mellon is sweating on the fitness of playmaker Paddy McCourt ahead of Saturday’s Yorkshire derby clash with Leeds United.

Irishman McCourt hobbled off with a hamstring injury and Mellon is expected to find out today the extent of the damage.

If McCourt is sidelined for a long period that would be a big blow to the Reds because he has arguably been one of the team’s better performers in recent weeks.

But for Mellon himself, he doesn’t even know whether he’ll be in charge of the team come the weekend.

The Scot has been given a few games to prove himself capable of landing the first team manager’s job on a permanent basis.

But after a promising start with an away win over Brighton, the Reds were beaten by Burnley and missed a chance to ease their relegation worries with a home draw with Yeovil Town at Oakwell last weekend.

As it stands, The Star understands that Mellon will get longer in the role. Home matches against Bolton and Derby – both within the space of four days – follow the Leeds match, and then away to Birmingham on New Year’s Eve mean it’s a busy festive period for the managerless Reds.

Whether the club would risk changing manager with so many games in a short period of time remains to be seen. The Star tried to contact Barnsley owner Patrick Cryne yesterday, but he was unavailable for comment.

Cryne has kept a low profile this season and not been seen at any of the club’s home matches because, as The Star understands, he continues to battle ill health.

Reds’ chief executive Ben Mansford was also unavailable for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, The Star understands Stoke City loan-stopper Jack Butland is weighing up his options over a potential loan extension. The keeper will wait to see who is appointed the Reds’ new boss and whether there are any other clubs who want to sign him on loan.

* Tonight, Barnsley play Newcastle United at Oakwell in the FA Youth Cup third round (7pm) with the winners at home to Sunderland.