Sheffield Wednesday face a second Yorkshire derby in the space of four days on Saturday, with a win made even more essential by the failure to earn one in midweek.
A Callum Paterson own goal denied Darren Moore a first win in charge against Huddersfield Town, instead ensuring a 1-1 draw that leaves them nine points adrift of safety in the Championship with only 10 games left to play.
They now make the short trip to a very in-form Barnsley, desperately needing a first victory in nine matches. Here’s what Moore said ahead of the clash…
On Sam Hutchinson
Defender Hutchinson was forced off in the second half against Huddersfield, with Moore revealing he had suffered a muscular injury which would require a late check before deciding his readiness to play at Barnsley.
“We’re assessing Sam,” he said. “As it is at the moment today (Friday), we’ll see how Sam is. He sustained a muscular injury and we just wanted to leave him 24 hours. It’ll be an 11th-hour decision with him.
“I think everyone else has reported okay, as far as I’m aware of now the squad is fine and well.
“I think it’s great that we’ve got one or two bodies back in and they’ve had a bit more in terms of volume in training.
“Andre (Green) is back in there now and has had a few more days extra training. We’re maybe looking at having Izzy Brown back in there. That’s one or two more bodies adding to the group.”
On Chey Dunkley
However, there has been another setback for centre-back Dunkley, who has missed the past two matches with a hamstring injury and will be out for several further weeks, according to Moore.
“He sustained an injury in training and he’s going to be out for a few weeks we anticipate,” said the Wednesday boss.
“He’s with the medical team now. It’s unfortunate for Chey really because we felt he was just getting up to speed. It was a training ground injury but he’s with the medical team and hopefully we can get him back soon.”
On free agents
Moore was asked about two free agents who have been training with the club recently, former Leicester City right-back Danny Simpson, last at Huddersfield, and ex-Sheffield United attacking midfielder Ravel Morrison.
He revealed that a deal for Simpson was now off the table, while nothing had yet been agreed with Morrison.
“There’s no talk on both players,” said Moore. “We’ve had both players in but nothing has been definitely confirmed.
“Danny Simpson is a definite no. Ravel is there as a free agent, we know about his talent, that’s just been an enquiry from us.
“At this stage of the season usually with free transfers we don’t doubt their ability, it’s whether they’re in a position to contribute physically. The problem is they’ve not trained a lot in an environment and it takes them time to get up to speed.”
He later added on former Premier League winner Simpson: “He just came up on the radar because he was a free transfer. After looking into it, he just wasn’t for us. That was it really.”
Wednesday could find few tougher tasks in the Championship right now than neighbours Barnsley, who have surged all the way up to fifth place in the table with a staggering run of nine wins and a draw from their past 10 matches.
Moore offered praise for Valerien Ismael and his team, saying: “They’ve found a group of players and a manager that’s brought a good tempo and energy to their play and a successful approach to their play.
“It’s led them on a real surge to finish the season strongly and given them a wonderful opportunity in terms of the promotion stakes this season to get into the top flight. It’s a credit to them. It’s a tough game ahead of us but another we prepare for and get ready for tomorrow.”
He added of the style used by a club he once represented as a player: “It’s a style of play they believe in and it’s been successful and gets results. There’s no style of play you’ll see me critique if it’s successful. There are many ways of winning a game of football.
“They make it very difficult in terms of how they go about and put a lot of pressure on you, and it’s a game we have to be ready for.”
Some supporters now see relegation to League One as a formality following a run of one point in eight matches that has left them well adrift, but Moore insists his side will fight until the end.
He said: “While the maths and the points are still there, we have to continue to fight and believe and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in terms of fighting hard for every yard on the pitch and for the points available.
“It’s that togetherness we’ve mentioned before, that work rate, that commitment, that endeavour, that drive, that desire. It’s that moment that you feel proud to be part of this football club. That’s where the players have got to be at.”