Barnsley have suffered an injury blow with the news that Ryan Hedges will miss an important run of fixtures with a broken toe.
The winger, making only his second League One start of the season, sustained the problem during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with South Yorkshire rivals Doncaster at Oakwell.
Hedges is expected to be absent for the games against Sunderland, Southend, Manchester City under-21s and Wycombe over the next few weeks.
“Ryan Hedges has broken his toe, so he is out for the next four matches, I think,” Reds assistant head coach Andreas Winkler said.
“A difficult time for him, disappointing for him and disappointing for us. He is a very good player, very important.
“But, on the other hand, it is not an injury when you don’t know when he comes back.”
Barnsley are in the midst of a hectic fixture schedule with nine matches - potentially 10 if an FA Cup replay is required - between now and New Year’s Day.
But Winkler is relishing the challenge, starting at fellow promotion rivals Sunderland on Tuesday night.
The German said: “I like it. That is why I am on the coaching staff here, not just on the pitch and training, but massive stadiums like Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
“We are looking forward to this match. It is different to Germany. But we have to adapt our strategy for this.
“After Christmas you can see the eight to 10 teams that can be on the top until the end of the league. It is the toughest month of the year.”
Barnsley will arguably face their toughest test of the season at the Stadium of Light.
The second-placed Black Cats, relegated from the Championship alongside the Tykes last season, sit two points above Daniel Stendel’s side in the table.
“They have lots of experience, lots of quality,” Winkler said.
“They are very composed, they know how to beat a team. They have lots of quality, especially attacking, and don’t take that many risks because of their quality.
“A massive stadium with a lot of support. We are happy for this match. But we know about their strengths.
“Everyone knows if you win, you can be second. But if you don’t lose then that will be good.
“We cannot play like on Saturday. We have to have control and not concede so many chances.”
Barnsley have Zeki Fryers available in Wearside after the defender missed the draw with Rovers through suspension.