O’Brien eager to start in Hillsborough clash

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JIM O’Brien is desperate to get himself in Barnsley’s starting line-up for Saturday’s South Yorkshire’s derby with Sheffield Wednesday.

Scottish winger O’Brien, in his third season with the Reds, has not started against the Owls in a derby fixture.

And the 25-year-old former Motherwell midfielder has been unlucky with injuries which have limited his impact in other derby fixtures for the Oakwell outfit.

“I’d love to be in the starting XI, it would be great to start a derby against Sheffield Wednesday,” O’Brien told The Star.

“I’m sure the atmosphere will be amazing. I’ve been speaking to a few supporters around town and they’re all looking forward to it.

“I’ve been a bit unlucky with derby matches. I got injured against Leeds United this season and I was also injured for the Huddersfield match earlier in the season, so it would be nice if I could start and play the full 90 minutes. You play football to be involved in games like this. A big crowd, a great atmosphere, it’s what we all want as footballers.”

O’Brien netted important goals in wins over Blackpool and Middlesbrough earlier this season and has been delighted with the Reds’ welcome return to form.

Wins over Watford and Brighton sees the club sitting two points above the relegation zone with a game in hand on some of their rivals.

And O’Brien is under no illusions how important this weekend’s match is, especially for the club’s loyal supporters.

“Our fans have been excellent this season,” added O’Brien. “We know how important this game is for them.

“They’ve come out in good numbers to watch our away matches and then really got behind us at home, which I’ve really appreciated and so have the rest of the players.

“It’s an important game for us and there’s extra importance for our fans because it’s a derby match. I think everyone’s looking forward to it.”

Chris O’Grady’s goal secured a 1-0 win for the Owls at Oakwell earlier in the season, although the striker - on loan at Oakwell until the end of the season - will not be allowed to play against his parent club.

Stoke City loan defender Rory Delap is a big doubt with a calf injury, while centre-back Jimmy McNulty is still struggling with his ankle.

However, midfielder Stephen Dawson could return to the team having missed the last couple of months with ankle ligament damage.