KEITH Hill has expressed his disappointment that key players will be missing for tomorrow’s away clash with Charlton Athletic.
Barnsley boss Hill had hoped centre-back Jimmy McNulty and the versatile Martin Cranie would be fit for the Reds’ trip to the Valley for their first match since the international break.
But McNulty, who has not played a game this season, and Cranie have not trained with the squad this week and will definitely NOT play any part.
And to make matters worse midfielder Paul Digby, wingers Toni Silva and Jim O’Brien, as well as striker Mido are all still missing as they continue their recoveries from injuries.
“It’s just disappointing with regards to the squad that key players I’d love to have available aren’t,” Hill told The Star.
“Jimmy McNulty and Martin Cranie offer me so many options and permutations for the way we want to play.
“Martin Cranie can play in a quite a few different positions and Jimmy McNulty offers us different options at the back when he plays alongside Stephen Foster.
“They’ve both not trained this week and they’re not going to play any part against Crystal Palace next Tuesday.
“They might have a chance beyond the Nottingham Forest match, but we’ll just have to wait and I see.
“Jimmy hasn’t played all season, but he’s a naturally fit lad so when he’s ready I’ve got no worries about throwing him back in.”
The one glimmer of light for Hill is the return of defender Stephen Foster who, following a “nasty” hematona, trained with the squad for the first time yesterday and is tipped to potentially start at the weekend.
Striker Craig Davies also training yesterday having returned from international duty with Wales.
The Reds’ leading scorer featured as a second half substitute in a 2-1 win over Scotland, but was an unused substitute in his country’s 2-0 loss to Croatia.
“Craig’s come back in and looked really sharp,” revealed Hill. “It’s great he’s had international recognition, he’s deserved that for the way he’s played this season.
“A striker who scores goals is a commodity in this division – and Craig has had an excellent season so far.
“He had a good start for us and he understands that doing well for the team will lead to personal success for him and allow him to have one eye on the future.”
The last meeting between the sides in February 2009 resulted in a 0-0 draw at Oakwell, with the Reds having beaten the Addicks 3-1 away four months earlier in November 2008.
Current players Foster and Bobby Hassell both played in that win for the Reds, who have not lost their last five matches against tomorrow’s hosts.
Away form is a concern for the Reds who have lost four of their five league matches so far, but who showed what they can achieve when they’re on song with a 5-0 away drubbing of Birmingham City earlier in the campaign.