Get the inside track ahead of tomorrow's big South Yorkshire derby...
Sheffield Wednesday v Barnsley
Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday will meet for the 70th time tomorrow afternoon as both sides return to action following the international break.
Last time out the Reds fell 2-0 at Norwich and that result leaves Paul Heckingbottom’s men in 11th place but after securing home wins against Rotherham and Leeds already this season, another derby success this weekend could see them close the gap on Sheffield Wednesday to just eight points.
The Owls go into this one having suffered back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa and Reading in their last two outings.
They remain in the final play-off place however but just a point ahead of seventh placed Fulham.
Away from home, Carlos Carvalhal’s men have lost their last two but with victories at Wigan and Nottingham Forest before that, they’ve proved that they’re more than capable of picking up points on the road.
The Reds will be looking to end a run of seven games without a win in this fixture.
Since Barnsley completed a league double over their South Yorkshire rivals in the 2008-09 season, there have been two draws and five wins for Wednesday.
The most recent of those victories came in December when the Owls ran out 2-0 winners at Hillsborough, in what was the first meeting between the Clubs in nearly three years.
At Oakwell, Barnsley last tasted success in this fixture back in October 2008 but with two Wednesday wins and most recently a draw since then, Paul Heckingbottom’s men will be eager to set the record straight tomorrow.
Ryan Kent and Alex Mowatt will be pushing for starting berths after being named on the bench at Norwich two weeks ago, while Ryan Hedges will be hoping for more minutes after playing the final nine at Carrow Road.
One man who will also be looking to be involved is Saidy Janko, who returned from a long-term injury to be named amongst the substitutes in that game.
Sheffield Wednesday meanwhile, will be hoping to welcome back a quartet of players.
Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper, Sam Hutchinson and Ross Wallace have all been suffering from injuries in recent times but manager Carlos Carvalhal is hopeful that they have recovered over the international break.
The Owls will be without Vincent Sasso however, with the defender serving the second game of a three-match ban after being sent off in the Club’s 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa in early March.
Man in the Middle
Premier League referee Kevin Friend will take charge of a Barnsley game for the first time since November 2013 this afternoon.
On that occasion Friend watched over a goalless draw against Doncaster, with the Reds drawing two, winning two and losing three in his company so far.
The Leicestershire-based official has watched over 10 Sheffield Wednesday games in total, with the Owls securing four wins and three draws, as well as suffering three defeats.
The most recent of those matches came earlier this season when Friend took charge of Wednesday’s 2-1 home win against Nottingham Forest in September.
That is one of 26 games which the 45-year-old referee has overseen so far this term; brandishing 97 yellow cards and two reds.
Their Star Man
After netting 15 times in a highly impressive debut season for the Owls last time out, forward Fernando Forestieri has once again been the star man for Sheffield Wednesday this term.
The Argentinian-born former Italy U21 international has found the back of the net 11 times so far, while he has also contributed five assists to Wednesday’s promotion push.
He was quick out of the blocks with a winning goal against Aston Villa on the opening day of the campaign and although that was only one of three which the 27-year-old netted in his first 15 games of this season, he has now bagged eight in his last 17 appearances.
That has included three in his last five, with the former Genoa, Malaga and Watford man netting in wins against Nottingham Forest and Norwich, as well as a late consolation goal at home to Brentford in late February.
The versatile attacker has been missing in recent times due to a knee injury but with Wednesday pushing hard for a play-off place, they will be desperate to have Forestieri’s work rate, skill and clinical finishing back in their forward line for the run-in.
When Chris O’Grady joined Burton Albion on a season-long loan deal from Brighton in July, the Brewers became the 15th Club of the well-travelled striker’s career so far.
Both Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday are included amongst that long list of sides, with O’Grady joining the Owls in August 2011 from Rochdale for an undisclosed fee.
Although he netted just seven times in his first season at Hillsborough, the 31-year-old’s workman like performances saw him nail down a regular starting spot as the Owls won promotion to the Championship.
On the back of that achievement, the Nottingham-born front man hit six goals in the first half of the 2012-13 campaign including a winner at Oakwell in December 2012.
Just over a month later however and O’Grady was signing for the Reds on loan until the end of the season.
He struck six times for Barnsley during that temporary stay including one against his first professional Club Leicester City in a 2-0 triumph and the opener in a dramatic 2-2 draw at Huddersfield on the final day of the season which ended with both sides avoiding the drop.
Following that impressive spell, the Reds turned O’Grady’s stay into a permanent one in June 2013 and the powerful front man came back even stronger; hitting 15 goals in 43 appearances including braces against Charlton, Middlesbrough, Blackpool, Yeovil and QPR.
That last double against the R’s would prove to be his final appearance for the Reds however, with the former Rotherham and Oldham man agreeing a switch to Brighton following Barnsley’s relegation to League One; bagging 21 goals in 59 appearances during his time at Oakwell.
Although currently still on the books at Brighton, the former Red has spent time on loan at both Sheffield United and boyhood Club Nottingham Forest in recent times, while he is currently on a similar deal at Burton Albion.
Barnsley’s last five at home: (LDLDD)
Barnsley 1-3 Wolves (31/1/2017)
Barnsley 0-0 Preston (4/2/2017)
Barnsley 0-2 Brighton (18/2/2017)
Barnsley 1-1 Huddersfield (25/2/2017)
Barnsley 1-1 Ipswich (11/3/2017)
Sheffield Wednesday’s last five on the road: (DWWLL)
Bristol City 2-2 Sheffield Wednesday (31/1/2017)
Wigan 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday (3/2/2017)
Nottingham Forest 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday (18/2/2017)
Leeds United 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday (25/2/2017)
Aston Villa 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday (11/3/2017)