BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill has stressed this afternoon’s clash at Championship strugglers Coventry City is a “must-not-lose” match.
The Reds take on their hosts, who are 17 points below them in the table, at the Ricoh Arena looking for their first away win over the Sky Blues since August 1923.
“We’ve got to make sure that difference stays at 17 points, we don’t want it being reduced to 14 points,” said Hill. “We’re in a good position at the moment, but we’ve still got work to do.
“Our first target is 50 points because I’m convinced that will guarantee us Championship football next season.”
Meanwhile, Hill has revealed that referee Carl Boyeson rang him to apologise over the wrongly disallowed Barnsley goal on Tuesday.
The Reds thought they had made it 2-2 against Birmingham but Matty Done was adjudged offside, a decision that astounded Hill and the rest of Oakwell.
“Carl rang me to apologise and that was very fair of him and I accepted it,” said Hill who said he knew on the night that an incorrect decision had cost Barnsley an equaliser.
The Reds will definitely be without midfielders David Perkins (knee), Nathan Doyle (calf) and Stephen Dawson (ankle) for today’s match, as well as defender Bobby Hassell (knee).
But defender Stephen Foster has recovered from the illness which forced him to miss out on Tuesday. He travelled with the squad to the West Midlands yesterday, as did Paul Digby, the young midfielder who made his full debut for the Reds in midweek.
Midfielder Michael Tonge is now recovered from a second ankle injury and could start, having featured as a second-half substitute against Birmingham while fellow midfielder Jim O’Brien is also in contention to return.
“I’d love to start,” Tonge told The Star. “I’ve had a lot of trouble with ankle injuries during my career, so it’s been frustrating I’ve not played a full 90 minutes yet.
“I’ve rolled both of my ankles since I joined the club, but the soreness has gone from my recent injury. Hopefully that 90 minutes is just around the corner.”
New winger David Cotterill says he is taking one game at a time because, having been out for ten months, he can’t afford to do anything else.
“I’m hoping to impress and if I do and the manager wants to keep me on then obviously I’ve done something right,” said Cotterill, the one-time Blades winger who was recently released by Swansea.
“I’m nowhere near at the races [with my fitness] at the moment, but with every game I’ll get better. With every training session I do feel sharper.”