BARNSLEY midfielder Jim O’Brien is a major doubt for tomorrow’s South Yorkshire derby clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
And the Reds will definitely be without defenders Rory Delap and Jimmy McNulty who are both still injured.
O’Brien picked up a knock in training this week and is facing a race against time to start his first-ever derby match with the Owls. Tomasz Cywka is in contention to deputside.
Meanwhile, Stoke City loan right-back Delap is expected to be out for at least another 7-10 days with a troublesome calf-injury, while centre-back McNulty - who has struggled with injuries this season - is likely to be out for another fortnight with his ankle injury.
Speaking exclusively to The Star, Reds boss David Flitcroft revealed: “Jim’s struggling and Rory and McNults [McNulty] are both definitely out.
“Other than that we’ve got a clean bill of health and I’m happy going with what players we’ve got fit.”
The good news for Flitcroft is that midfielder Stephen Dawson is in contention for a starting place, although a betting man would have the Dubliner on the substitute’s bench having only just returned from a two-month lay-off with ankle ligament damage.
Dawson played 60 minutes for the club’s Under-21 side earlier this week and got some “good miles” under his belt according to Flitcroft.
And the manager has options in midfielder with David Perkins, Jacob Mellis, Kelvin Etuhu and Tomaz Cywka all pushing hard to be in the starting line-up.
“It’s great to have Daws [Dawson] back,” admitted Flitcroft. “We’re getting his energy, which has been massive for us this season.
“He’s had momentum this season, so to lose him through injury was a big blow.
“But for me not only is he one of our most consistent players, I believe he’s been one of the most consistent performers in the Championship this season.
“He’s having his best season for the club and playing the best football of his career.”
Sheffield Wednesday loan striker Chris O’Grady is ineligiable for the weekend’s match, while midfielder Paul Digby and Scott Golbourne remain the Reds’ two long-term injury casualties, out for the rest of the season.
O’Grady’s absence has left the door open for Marlon Harewood to push for his first league start since playing against Burnley at the start of the month, although Jason Scotland and Chris Dagnall are also vying to be on the pitch for kick-off.