Away days can help Reds’ team spirit before Cup task

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BARNSLEY’s players will spend a second night away from their family on Friday ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup showdown with Manchester City.

Reds’ boss David Flitcroft has asked his players to make personal sacrifices this season in the club’s continued bid to avoid Championship relegation. And no wonder Flitcroft is asking more from his players having seen his former boss Keith Hill pay the price for poor form.

But the sacrifices Flitcroft has asked his players to make have largely worked, especially when the club went on a nine-game unbeaten run to lift themselves out of the bottom three.

After Tuesday’s draw at Burnley, the squad moved to a hotel near Blackburn for a recuperation session ahead of the weekend. And today, having spent a night at home, the players have a couple of days worth of training at Manchester United training complex, organised by Flitcroft to “mix things up” ahead of the club’s biggest game for five years.

Ironically it was in the FA Cup that Barnsley last achieved success when they upset the odds on the way to a Wembley semi-final against Cardiff City in 2008. Only three members of that squad are still playing for the club now.

And they will undoubtedly be drawing on the memories of that season when they shocked Chelsea and Liverpool with incredible wins and, despite a dip in league form, survived relegation.

“I’ve asked the players to make sacrifices for the club and they’ve bought into that,” said Flitcroft. “They’ll be time to spend with their families during the summer and time to relax and reflect. But there’s a hell of a lot of work still to do.”

City retain their main focus on defending their Premier title. Javi Garcia believes the competitive nature of the divison means City can still cling to the hope of overhauling Manchester United in the title race.

City will enter the final 10 games of the campaign lying 12 points adrift of United after overcoming Aston Villa on Monday.

“Being 12 points in front is a good position for Manchester United to be in” said the Spanish midfielder.

“But there are 10 games left, it is still 30 points to play for, it is still possible (to win the title).”