Barnsley are our next challenge in the Sky Bet Championship as they head to the Brentford Community Stadium tomorrow lunchtime. The Tykes exited the FA Cup on Thursday night following a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea and now switch their focus back to league action.
Without a win in 2021, Barnsley have dropped away from the Play-Off places but showed plenty in midweek as they pushed Chelsea all the way in their Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round tie at Oakwell.
It was a slow start to the season for The Tykes who needed some final day heroics at Griffin Park back in July to preserve their second tier status. One point from their first four spelt the end for Gerhard Struber who was replaced by Valérien Ismaël in October. The Frenchman won ten of his first 15 in charge as Barnsley ended 2020 in eighth place.
No wins in their last five has seen them drop down to 15th but still with an eight point buffer between themselves and the bottom three.
Barnsley haven't been the best on the road this term but did win three of their four away games in December.
Top scorer Cauley Woodrow (pictured above) has nine league goals to his name this term with Callum Styles, Alex Mowatt, and Michal Helik tied on four apiece behind him.
Christian Norgaard and Emiliano Marcondes are closing in on a return while Charlie Goode and Winston Reid both played 80 minutes of a training game on Thursday. Pontus Jansson (ankle), Shandon Baptiste (knee), and Luka Racic (back) are set to miss out again.
Left-back Ben Williams (knee) is likely out for the season while Aapo Halme (toe) hasn't played since December. Liam Kitching is a few weeks away with a hamstring injury but Romal Palmer and Toby Sibbick are back following injury.
Valérien Ismaël is well in the mould of Barnsley's recent successful appointments, arriving in England with extensive experience in Austria and Germany.
As a centre-back, Ismaël played more than 400 professional games, including 13 appearances for Crystal Palace in 1998. He had three spells with hometown club Strasbourg, winning two Coupe de la Ligues and an Intertoto Cup. He picked up a further League Cup with Lens before moving to Germany. He won the double with Werder Bremen in 2003/04, repeating the trick with Bayern Munich two years later.
He enjoyed early success in the dugout with Hannover II and VFL Wolfsburg II, winning two Regionalliga Nord titles at VFL either side of an unsuccessful 14 game spell in charge of 1. FC Nürnberg. It wasn't until he arrived at Austrian side LASK in 2019, following 17 games in charge of Wolfsburg and one in charge of Greek side Apollon Smyrnis, that his managerial career took off. LASK bowed out in the Last 16 of the Europa League to Manchester United and finished fourth in the Austrian Bundesliga, despite a 12 point deduction. However, that wasn't enough for the club hierarchy who sacked him despite a 62 per cent win ratio from his 50 games.
LAST TIME OUT
HOW TO FOLLOW
Sunday's game is only available on iFollow, it will not be on Sky Sports or the red button.
Season Ticket and Premium Seat Holders already have VIP access to the game but match passes are also available for £10 (£7 international fans) so you can watch live.