It's a long trip to Suffolk for the Reds as they tackle the Tractor Boys!
Jose Morais’ Barnsley are back in league action on Tuesday night as we aim to carry on our winning ways against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
The Reds are on the up after a thrilling comeback to beat Sheffield United 3-2 in a pulsating South Yorkshire derby at Oakwell at the weekend.
Whilst we remain 22nd in the Sky Bet Championship table, we have closed the gap to two points on the rivals above, with a game in hand on the sides around us.
Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich sit 14th in the league, without a win in six since their victory over Sheffield Wednesday in early March.
Ipswich Town are the Championship’s longest-serving club, having competed in the second tier since their relegation from the Premier League in 2002.
The Tractor Boys have reached the Play-Offs three times since returning to the division but have so far been unable to reach the highest level again.
Ipswich were promoted into the first ever season of the Premier League in 1992, staying until 1995 before two more top-flight seasons between 2000 and 2002, secured by beating the Reds 4-2 in the Division One Play-Off final at Wembley. It was during the early 2000's that the Suffolk side peaked in their recent history, securing a UEFA Cup spot through a fifth-place finish in 2001, reaching the third round before their elimination by Inter Milan.
Despite their relegation the following season, the club again took a European place through the UEFA Fair Play Rankings, juggling their UEFA Cup quest with their gritty Division One battle. Ipswich suffered penalty heartache in the second round, losing out to Czech side Slovan Liberec.
Although the club have not managed promotion, they have remained consistent and they have never finished lower than last season’s position of 16th in their current 16-year spell in the division.
McCarthy is set to hand over the managerial reins to a new boss this summer, with fans at Portman Road ambitious for an exciting new era.
The Squad – Ones to Watch
Bartosz Bialkowski has been McCarthy’s go-to in goal this campaign. The 30-year-old stopper, who made his long-awaited senior Poland debut last month against Nigeria, has played all but one of Ipswich’s league games this season, with Dean Gerken deputising in their home win against Leeds United in January. Bialkowski, who made two (unbeaten) emergency loan appearances for Barnsley in 2009, first played senior football in his homeland with Gornik Zabrze, before moving to England with Southampton. He spent two years as first-choice goalkeeper at Notts County, before arriving at Portman Road in 2014.
Luke Chambers is a commanding centre-half who skippers the side he is now into his sixth season with. The 32-year-old came through the ranks at local club Northampton Town, making his senior debut in 2003. Having established himself in the Cobblers’ back line, Chambers made the move to Nottingham Forest in 2007, where he featured in the centre of defence and at right-back. After well over 200 appearances for Forest, the defender signed for Ipswich where he has since surpassed that milestone again, and become a cult hero in the eyes of fans in Suffolk. Chambers is eligible for both England and the Republic of Ireland, but has yet to receive an international cap.
Jonas Knudsen has played more minutes than any outfield player at the club so far this season. The Danish left-back has featured 37 times this campaign, and has been warmed to by supporters for scoring in both of last season’s East Anglian derbies against Norwich City. Knudsen arrived at Portman Road in 2015, after six years as a professional with Esbjerg in his home nation, where he made his debut aged just 16. The full-back returned to the Denmark scene in the last international break, earning his third cap against Chile. His first two caps were won prior to his Ipswich move.
Bersant Celina is a highly-rated attacking midfielder, who can also operate up top. The 21-year-old is on a loan stint in East Anglia from Manchester City, where he has made four first-team appearances so far. Celina attracted attention around the world from his displays in the City youth sides, and made his Premier League debut against Leicester City in February 2016. A loan spell last season with FC Twente in the Netherlands followed, before arriving at Ipswich for this campaign. Having made his way through Norway’s youth setup, Celina interestingly played both for and against the Norwegian U21 side, switching allegiance to Kosovo in 2014, for whom he already has 10 senior caps.
Martyn Waghorn signed for the Tractor Boys in August 2017, returning to English football after two years in Glasgow with Rangers. The striker scored the winner on his debut against the Reds in this season’s reverse fixture at Oakwell, the first of 14 so far this season. The 28-year-old also tops the assist chart at Ipswich with eight, making it an impressive debut campaign for the forward. Waghorn came through the ranks at local side Sunderland, making his senior debut in 2007 against Manchester United, and has since gone on to play for Leicester and Wigan Athletic alongside several loan spells.
In The Dugout
Reds fans will be as familiar as anyone with Mick McCarthy. The Barnsley-born former defender featured at Oakwell between 1977 and 1983, contributing to two promotions across over 300 appearances in all competitions.
McCarthy is now the Championship’s longest-serving manager, having arrived at Ipswich in November 2012 following Paul Jewell’s departure. The 59-year-old is set to depart Portman Road at the end of this season, having spent nearly six years in East Anglia.
The Tractor Boys’ boss played for and managed the Republic of Ireland for whom he qualified through his father, spending six years in charge of the Irish team and leading them to the 2002 World Cup. McCarthy began his management career with Millwall, for whom he last played in 1992. He has also taken the reins at Sunderland and Wolves, and is joined on the bench by assistant, Terry Connor.
Barnsley have managed 13 wins over Ipswich Town in their past meetings, with the Tractor Boys winning 23 games. The Reds have drawn six of their last 10 fixtures against Ipswich but have not won since a 3-1 victory at Portman Road in late 2010, which was 12 years after the last Portman Road success back in 1998.
The recent form in this fixture, the Play-Off final heartache of 2000 and the huge three points at stake in this year’s survival battle act as a huge incentive for a top Reds performance this Tuesday, carrying on from the joy of the weekend.