Barnsley: Reds defence have to step up, says Danny Wilson

Barnsley's Dale Jennings
Barnsley's Dale Jennings
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BARNSLEY boss Danny Wilson has backed fresh faces to solve the club’s defensive crisis in tomorrow’s away clash with Watford.

Skipper Martin Cranie will definitely miss the club’s trip to Vicarage Road with a torn hamstring.

And fellow centre-back – and defensive partner – Peter Ramage is unlikely to feature with a similar injury, although his is understood to be not as bad as Cranie’s.

Wilson believes defender Cranie is going to be missing for at least three weeks, ruling him out of league matches against the Hornets, this weekend, and most likely matches against Bournemouth, Reading and Yeovil.

But the former Coventry City man could be in line to return for the club’s home clash with Brighton and Hove Albion at the start of next month. Wilson said yesterday in his pre-game press conference that Ramage had the potential to play, but a better man would be wise to predict that Jean-Yves M’voto and Lewin Nyatanga will join forces to make the ‘new’ backbone of the Reds’ defence.

That’s a largely untried partnership – albeit for 34 minutes of Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat to Leicester City – when the pair were thrust together because of the injuries to Cranie and Ramage.

And perhaps more worryingly, former Bristol City defender Nyatanga has started just twice this season in four appearances.

He’s also only played one full 90 minutes with injuries having also hampered his season.

Frenchman M’voto has played 18 times this term and made 16 starts, but the Reds have won just twice in the games M’voto has played.

Hardly the ideal confidence-booster ahead of a tough trip to London. But Wilson stressed: “Sometimes you’ve just got to step up to the plate.

“We’re not looking at the loan market at the moment. We’re aware of it, but we’ve got two players who are in there [the squad] for a reason.

“We’ve got Big John [M’voto] and Lewin [Nyatanga], but unfortunately they’ve just not played games in recent months because the two centre-backs [Ramage and Cranie] have done very well.

“They’ll be given the opportunity to play – and that’s a certainty in that respect.

“I’m hoping they will step up to the plate and give it everything.

“It’s a great opportunity for them. You hear that many times from managers, it’s cliché, especially when there’s injuries and suspensions.

“But this is one of those situations and they’ve been chomping at the bit to play.

“They want to play – and now is the opportunity to come in and perform.

“We’ve got full confidence in them. We’re going to a tough place at the weekend, but I don’t think there’s an easy game you can go into.”

Winger Jim O’Brien is out for the season having had an operation for cartilage knee tear, while defender Bobby Hassell (calf) and striker Marcus Pedersen (hamstring) both remain sidelined through injury.

While most of Wilson’s issues are at the back, the Reds boss will be looking to Dale Jennings again as the Reds attempt to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.

Jennings’ produced the moment of magic that fans expected to see on a more regular basis from the former Bayern Munich youngster, in scoring the winner against Nottingham Forest last Saturday.

That was the 21 year old’s first goal for Barnsley, in 12 appearances, and in arguably his best performance.