Reds equipped to cope without Craig

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IN-FORM Barnsley midfielder David Perkins insists the Championship side will cope without leading goal-scorer Craig Davies, who could be out of action for up to six weeks.

Welsh international Davies, who has notched eights goals in 13 appearances this season, including four at Birmingham City, has been ruled out of tonight’s encounter with Crystal Palace because of a hamstring problem.

The former Chesterfield striker was taken off late on in the Reds 1-0 victory at Charlton Athletic last weekend and manager Keith Hill has stated he is unlikely to be fit for “two to six weeks”. He is set to have a scan on the knock today.

Perkins, Barnsley’s stand-out player at The Valley, accepts Davies will be a big miss but claims Hill’s side possess enough strength in depth to keep picking up the points in the second tier of English football.

The central midfielder said: “It is a massive blow. I thought Craig was superb on Saturday. The way he held the ball up was great although he didn’t score. I thought he was fantastic and was probably our best player.

“I thought he ran their two centre-halves ragged. When the ball went up to him, it stuck and it gave us a foundation to build from.

“I think we have got the players to come in and take their chance. It is not the biggest squad in the world but I think there is quality. Only time will tell.”

Hill admits Davies injury setback is a “bitter pill to swallow”. He has not ruled dipping into the emergency loan market to bring in further striking reinforcements but has stressed Davies would be “very difficult” to replace.

Marlon Harewood, Kelvin Etuhu and youngster Danny Rose are vying to step in for Davies, with the experienced Harewood in pole position to be recalled.

He said: “I think if Craig had been a little bit more honest with us, I think we might have withdrawn him from the Charlton game maybe 10 minutes prior to him pulling up a hamstring. I am not disappointed with Craig. It has been a good season and a half Craig has had at Barnsley and he will only get better. Maybe he will learn that lesson himself. It is very difficult in those circumstances to make the right decision as a player.”

Stephen Dawson is a major injury doubt (groin) for the clash with fourth-placed Palace, who yesterday turned down an approach from Bolton asking to speak to their manager Dougie Freedman.

The Eagles head to Oakwell without Wilfried Zaha, one of the hottest properties outside the top flight, as the talented winger serves a one-match ban after collecting five bookings. His teammate, Dean Moxey, is also suspended following his red card for two bookable offences in the entertaining draw with Millwall on Saturday.

“I am not surprised how well Palace are,” said Hill. “They set up to counter attack. They have pace and score a lot of goals; they would probably have run away with the match at the weekend but for the sending off. They have hit good form in the last five matches but they are not invincible. I think Dougie is an excellent manager. Talk (over his future) won’t affect him. He is professional and wants to win football matches.”

Mido, having recovered from a hamstring injury, played 70 minutes and scored a penalty as the Reds development squad lost 2-1 to Huddersfield Town yesterday.