If I’m brutally honest, a third win on the bounce seems an unlikely proposition – and a trip to virtual bogey-side Barnsley perhaps seems to corroborate by reluctance to express too much optimism. Then again, with no disrespect to our Yorkshire hosts, this trip provides a theoretically smaller challenge than our last away trip – so I am at least open to the prospect of being surprised again!
Hopefully with two wins under their belt against Coventry and Birmingham the Reds will travel in confident mood. With four defeats in the last five, Keith Hill’s Tykes might be less so – although they are capable of turning over impressive results – just ask Reading, Leeds or Leicester. Certainly not a game to be taken lightly, and I’m struggling to remember ever going to Oakwell and leaving happy!
On the injury front it’s Danny Higginbotham who is our major concern. The loan man limped out of action at Birmingham with a hamstring problem, although he was of course ably deputised by Joel Lynch. The extent of the injury hasn’t really been clarified very much, although Steve Cotterill seems to rate him at around 50:50. Robbie Findley, in the meantime, has returned to training.
Majewski and McGoldrick are suddenly inclusions on the injury list (which personally I think is suspicious – echoes of Kelvin Wilson and his indefinite ‘back injury’? Or maybe I need to learn to trust against.) Also sidelined are Ishmael Miller, Marlon Harewood, Matt Derbyshire (another suspicious one) and Brendan Moloney. And Chris Cohen, of course.
The other thing Mr Cotterill needs to consider is the international games that some of our players have undergone. Whilst home games for Lee Camp and Chris Gunter shouldn’t have proven too much of a strain, Adlene Guerdioura and Dexter Blackstock have been much further afield representing Algeria and Antigua & Barbuda respectively.
Our hosts will be missing David Perkins and Bobby Hassell – but could well hand a home debut to Stephen Dawson who recently arrived at Oakwell from Leyton Orient. Perhaps the most significant non-Forest member of personnel though is the referee. I’m afraid it’s Darren Deadman again – perhaps the most incompetent referee I’ve ever had the displeasure to witness (and let’s face it, that’s quite an accolade in that particular pool of ‘talent’!).
We started our season against the Tykes, of course, which was a fairly limp goalless draw. Since that point obviously – like most of the league – Barnsley have had a better time of it than we have. Cautious optimism is the watchword here for me – whilst our hosts are not to be underestimated I do hope to see us continue the recent positive play and attitude and come back from Yorkshire with a result.
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