BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill is relishing locking horns with Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray tomorrow as the Reds kick off their Championship season with a home fixture for the first time in five years.
“I’m really looking forward to the prospect of coming up against Tony Mowbray. I like the way he sets his team up,” Hill told The Star. “He’s recruited some good players, but he’s probably under a different pressure this season. He’s intimated that he’s building a squad that’s giving the club more of an opportunity to get promoted.
“Middlesbrough were in a position last season where it was possible, then they add injuries to their centre halves and key areas of the pitch and then they struggled. They just missed out, but were definitely contenders.”
The Reds were beaten twice by Boro last term, 2-0 at the Riverside and 3-1 at Oakwell.
But Hill is hoping his new look squad will cause plenty of problems for tomorrow’s visitors.
This weekend’s clash will see former Manchester City goalkeeper David Gonzalez make his debut having joined on non-contract terms this week, while new signing Marlon Harewood could be handed a starting role.
“We were very unfortunate when we went to Middlesbrough last season,” added Hill. “We played without any cutting edge at times. In a nutshell that was how we performed in the second half of last season. But our win over Rochdale [last weekend] has set us up well.There was a lot of physical and mental tiredness after that game, the concentration levels [needed to win that match] were huge. We’ve watched Middlesbrough in every pre-season game they’ve had and saw the game against Bury last week. They’re a very good side and one of the favourites to get into the top six this season - and rightly so because Tony Mowbray is a great manager. It’s a tough game for us.”
New signings Toni Silva and Mido are both missing with hamstring injuries, while keepers Luke Steele (groin) and the suspended Ben Alnwick will also play no part.
Winger Jim O’Brien is out for up to three months after complications with his dislocated shoulder, but defender Bobby Hassell is set to be included in the matchday squad. Left-back Scott Golbourne and midfielder Stephen Dawson have both recovered from niggles.