BARNSLEY winger Jim O’Brien is under no illusions about the added importance of tonight’s South Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday, writes Neil Goulding.
This evening’s game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, but it’s not the TV coverage which is whetting O’Brien’s appetitite.
The last time the Reds played on Sky they thumped Birmingham 5-0 with a vintage performance at St Andrews.
It’s home turf tonight for the visit of fellow strugglers Wednesday - and O’Brien is ready for the fight.
“I’ve never played in one of these games, but I know what it means to the supporters,” said O’Brien. “I’m really looking forward to it.
“I know what derby matches means to supporters. All the players know how much it means to the fans, but it means a lot to us as well because we don’t want to let people down.
“It’s a massive game and it’s on the TV as well, so everyone is looking to impress. We want to show that where we are in the league isn’t justified.
“I live in Barnsley now and even just popping to the shop you meet supporters who say we need a win.
“We want to the best for our fans.”
The Reds dropped into the bottom three for the first time last Saturday despite a battling 2-2 away with high-fliers Leicester City.
But some welcome confidence was restored with that point against the Foxes, although the Reds remain in desperate need for a victory, having not won in their last ten league matches.
“We’re hoping to build on the Leicester performance and hopefully get a win,” added O’Brien.
“It’s always difficult getting your first win when you’ve been in a bit of a rut, but hopefully it can come and we turn the corner.
“The manager is spot on that we need to show some bravery. We’ve had beatings recently, so we know what he’s looking for.
“The Leicester performance was excellent; it’s the best it’s been for a while so we’ve got to take advantage of that.”
That’s a view shared by Reds boss Keith Hill who has admitted it was difficult to leave former Sheffield Wednesday striker Marcus Tudgay out of the starting line-up against Leicester.
Tudgay faces his former club this weekend having scored twice in his last three matches, the last of which was as a substitute against the Foxes.
“It was difficult to leave Marcus out ,” said Hill. “But I’ll do the same this weekend whether it includes Marcus or it doesn’t.
“It applies to all the players depending on what tactics we want to employ.”