BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill is backing his side to bring home the bragging rights from tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby clash with local rivals Leeds United.
And if last season’s two fine victories over United are anything to go by, Hill is rightly confident that his players can again upset the apple cart.
The Reds thumped Leeds 4-1 at Oakwell last term and also claimed a battling 2-1 win when the two sides clashed at Elland Road.
“It’s an extra special game for the supporters,” Hill told The Star. “As always we’re playing for them and want to give them the bragging rights.
“At the start of the season it’s the type of game you really look forward too. It was a special day [when we beat them 2-1] last season, our fans were just above our dugout and you could see how much winning meant to them.
“We performed really well, but we can’t afford to under-perform on Saturday because we risk getting punished.”
And Hill knows his side face a different proposition this season with former Barnsley winger and Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock now in charge of the Elland Road managerial reigns.
Warnock’s side are unbeaten in their last three league matches and, in on-song Argentinean striker Luciano Becchio, they have a player who loves to score.
Becchio has scored three goals in his last five matches and six goals in his last nine league outings.
Added to the firepower of former Bolton, Blackburn and Sunderland hitman El Hadji Diouf - who played for Doncaster Rovers last season - Hill knows he is side will have to be defensively very strong.
“Neil’s recruited well, he’s brought some good players in,” added Hill. “In Becchio they’ve got a player in good form and they play to his strengths. They’ve got quality all over the pitch, you only have to look at their bench and think ‘wow!’”
Defender Stephen Foster is expected to return to the starting line-up having missed Tuesday night’s 2-0 home defeat to Peterborough United with a back injury, but Hill revealed defender Jimmy McNulty (Achilles), midfielder Paul Digby (thigh) and winger Toni Silva (knee) will definitely not feature until after the pending international break.
Long-term absentees Mido (hamstring) and winger Jim O’Brien (shoulder) are progressing with their recoveries, but are still a while away from respective returns.
In the last six meetings between the two clubs Barnsley have won four and drawn two matches, with Leeds having last beaten them in the league in April 1998.