BARNSLEY striker Andy Gray believes there is no better time to tackle promoted Brighton.
The Reds journey to the Amex Stadium to face the Seagulls in their last match before the pending international break.
Boosted by a fine 2-1 home win over high-fliers Hull City on Tuesday night, the Reds travel to the seaside full of confidence.
But it’s a different story for their hosts who, despite having won three of their opening four league games, have now not won in their last 10 Championship matches.
Brighton’s last league win came back in early September when they edged Bristol City 1-0, but they do have plenty of firepower with strikers Craig Mackail-Smith and Ashley Barnes both having scored five goals each this term to lead the club to 12th in the table.
“They’ve [Brighton] come unstuck in the last couple of weeks so it’s a good time for us to go down there,” Gray told The Star ahead of the first clash between the two sides since January 2004. “They’ve got some very good players and the whole club looks to have been given a big lift after winning promotion last season. They’ve carried that momentum into this season, but now is a good time to play them, especially after our win in midweek.
“It’s a new stadium and I’ve never been there, so I’m looking forward to it. We know they play fantastic football so it’s going to be tough for us.”
Former Sheffield United, Leeds United and Burnley hitman Gray bagged his fourth goal of the season against the Tigers on Tuesday - and the 33-year-old is confident he can keep finding the back of the net to help the Reds break into the top half of the table.
“It was good to get another goal in, hopefully there’s more to come,” added Gray. “It was a massive blow losing to Bristol last Saturday, so it was good to bounce back. That’s a really big win for us.
“They’ve got one of the best defensive records in the league so it was very pleasing to beat them.
“You can count on one hand this season the matches where we’ve not played well. At times we’ve not got the results we’ve deserved.”
Reds boss Keith Hill will be without defender Bobby Hassell (groin) and midfielder Reuben Noble-Lazarus (ankle) and Goran Lovre (knee), but the trio should be ready for action after the fortnight international break.
There will, however, be no rest for Reds’ skipper Jacob Butterfield who has won his first international call-up to the England Under-21 side.
Butterfield has been offered a new two and a half year deal at Oakwell this season, but is attracting the attention of a string of clubs with his current contract due to expire this summer.
Sheffield Wednesday boss Gary Megson, Everton manager David Moyes and former Reds player Mick McCarthy, now Wolves boss, were in the crowd to watch Barnsley take on Hull. Were they there to cast their eye on Butterfield?