Reds re-energised for season’s run-in

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BARNSLEY boss Mark Robins feels his side are not far off reaping the rewards of their hard work.

The Reds won just once in February and lost three of their other five games, but that run of results came with key players missing.

Experienced centre-back Stephen Foster was missing with a nasty shin injury and in his return against Ipswich Town midway through last month tore a hip muscle and has been missing ever since. He should be back in time for the April run-in but his absence alongside Jason Shackell, at the heart of the club’s defence has been a big loss.

On Saturday, skipper Shackell was forced off for emergency dental treatment after an elbow from Norwich City striker Grant Holt forced his two top teeth into the roof of his mouth.

And to make matters worse first-choice right-back, and club vice-captain, Bobby Hassell limped off with a calf strain in Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to the Canaries

But to their credit, the Reds twice came from behind to draw 3-3 at promotion contenders Leeds United last month and were only undone by a late winner away at Portsmouth.

Chelsea loan recruit Jacob Mellis and fellow midfielder Nathan Doyle both missed Saturday’s clash with hamstring strains and will face fitness tests to see if they’ll be ready for the trip to take on Derby County at Pride Park this Saturday.

“We’ve had three tough games recently and that does test your energy levels,” Robins told The Star.

“I was disappointed with the defeat to Norwich, but we’ve got to move on now and go and get a good result at Derby. I can’t wait for it and I’m sure the players can’t.

“We’re at the business end of the season now and it’s very important we all keep working hard - and I’m sure if we do that we’ll get our rewards.

“The games are coming thick and fast and there are players playing for contracts in the summer so it’s important we kick on and finish better than we did last season.”