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Barnsley: Reds urged to deliver performance against Fleetwood Town to make stricken fan proud

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance took Barnsley club volunteer Stephen Croft to hospital after he took ill before the scheduled clash with Burton Albion
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance took Barnsley club volunteer Stephen Croft to hospital after he took ill before the scheduled clash with Burton Albion

Assistant head coach Andreas Winkler has urged Barnsley to produce a performance Stephen Croft can be proud of against Fleetwood as the Reds volunteer continues his recovery from a cardiac arrest.

The Tykes’ League One clash with Burton at Oakwell last weekend was postponed after Croft collapsed and required medical treatment before kick-off.

The 61-year-old was airlifted to Sheffield Northern General and, following continued care in hospital, is now communicating with his friends and family.

Winkler was delighted to hear that Croft’s condition has improved and wants Barnsley to put on a show when they travel to Highbury Stadium on Saturday.

“The best news of the week,” the German said at a pre-match press conference.

“Steve is still with us and we heard that he is talking. Now we can look forward to seeing him in a couple of weeks, back at Oakwell.

“Everyone did well. When we heard that they got him back, everyone was clapping hands in the dressing room. That was the only thing we wanted to hear, that he was back.

“I am really delighted to see in these special moments how everyone handled it.

 “I think the players will be motivated anyway, they will want to put on a show for Stephen Croft. They’re really happy that he’s still with us.”

Barnsley are looking end a two-match winless streak when they travel to a Fleetwood side who are sitting 10th in the table, two points behind them.

The Cod Army have not won in their last three league outings, losing at Southend last week, but Winkler is fully aware of their threats.

“They are a very good side,” he said. “A very aggressive manager so their players are also aggressive.

“They have high quality individuals so we expect a strong team. We expect a tough match so we have solutions for every option, if they stay deep or press us high.

“Now it is 10-12 weeks since the start so we have improved ourselves in different plays, ball possession, finishing, creating chances. It doesn’t matter as we have different solutions.”

When asked about Fleetwood boss Joey Barton, Winkler replied: “He was an aggressive player and I think he is an aggressive manager. He transfers this into the squad.”

Midfielder Brad Potts will take his place in Barnsley’s squad for the trip to Lancashire if he comes through training unscathed, but striker Cauley Woodrow remains sidelined for another fortnight.