SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY/ BARNSLEY: Craig the buzz word for strike partner

Leading scorer: Oakwell strike ace Craig Davies
Leading scorer: Oakwell strike ace Craig Davies
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FORMER Sheffied Wednesday striker Marcus Tudgay and Craig Davies are both set to start up front for Barnsley against the Owls this weekend.

And Tudgay, who has scored twice in his last three matches, is enjoying life playing alongside Reds leading scorer Davies.

“I enjoy playing with Craig, he works incredibly hard for the team,” said Tudgay, on loan at Oakwell from Nottingham Forest.

“We’ve already struck up a good partnership, but we both feel there’s more to come.

“Craig’s having a very good season and he’s got a real eye for goal. We both buzz of each other, it’s been easy to fit since I came on loan.”

Barnsley director Don Rowing is expecting a bumper crowd at Oakwell tomorrow when South Yorkshire derby rivals Sheffield Wednesday come to town.

Wednesday had sold 3,711 tickets of their allocation at the time of going to print yesterday, added to the 6,750 Barnsley season-ticket-holders already going to the game.

And, with a further 1,219 tickets having been sold for this weekend’s mouthwatering match, Rowing told The Star he’d be disappointed if the match didn’t attract a crowd of at least 13,000.

“It would be a shame if we couldn’t get around the 13,000 mark, there’s a lot of interest in the game,” Rowing told The Star.

“It’s a local derby and very important game for both clubs, so it’s caught the imagination.

“If we can get a victory, we’ve got Millwall away next weekend and then two home games over the Christmas period. Hopefully a victory would be the catalyst which sets our season off on a good run of form.”

The Reds’ biggest crowd of this season was 14,134 in a 1-1 home draw with Blackpool back in September, the second game of the new campaign.

That was a special day for both clubs, being their respective 125th anniversaries, but the Reds’ attendances have dipped alarmingly for the last two home games.

“It’s important we get as many Barnsley fans in the ground as possible, it’s important they get behind the team,” stressed Rowing.

The Reds will be without the injured Jacob Mellis for the derby, still sidelined with a dead-leg.

And although fellow midfielder David Perkins has returned to training, Barnsley boss Keith Hill revealed the player was not in his for the weekend.

“We’ve got to be very cautious with Jacob and Perks,” admitted Hill. “Jacob’s is a serious dead-leg and Perks is still coming back from a bad hamstring injury.”

Young midfielder Paul Digby is the only other player absent, missing with a thigh strain for the high-profile game in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

The Owls have lost their last seven matches and the Reds have not won in ten. Given their respective troubles in the relegation zone, both managers know three points would be huge boost.

“Men have got to be men,” said Hill. “But this one football match won’t decide the fate of the football club.

“I’m really surprised with Sheffield Wednesday’s form, but that’s the competitive nature of this division.”

There will definitely be no Mido in the manager’s plans, with the player, as exclusively revealed in The Star earlier this week, close to an Oakwell exit.

Rowing confirmed: “I’ve spoken to Mido’s agent and we’ll be speaking again next week about his leaving the club.

“We’re trying to agree a deal which is suitable for both parties.”