Home set to be sweet for the Tykes as injuries hit Forest
Barnsley can flourish again at Oakwell
Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports 1, 7.45pm Friday
Barnsley have not won at Oakwell since late August but the Tykes look a great bet to snap a six-match winless home sequence by beating Nottingham Forest in front of the Sky cameras tonight.
Forest hoped they had turned the corner by winning 2-0 at Ipswich in last Saturday’s televised Sky Bet Championship fixture but an injury crisis may ruin their hopes of making it two wins out of two.
Absences have dogged Forest since the start of the campaign but they look threadbare tonight with as many as nine first-team players in danger of missing out.
Asked about the latest spate of injuries – which included setbacks for Daniel Pinillos (knee), Britt Assombalonga (hamstring) and Eric Lichaj (calf) – Forest manager Philippe Montanier simply sighed and said: “Do you have time to listen?”
In the era of no emergency loans, Montanier must find the answers from within the squad but he may struggle to put out an effective, well-balanced side.
He played a 3-5-1-1 system to good effect at Ipswich but those plans may have to change and that creates a problem on the left side of defence with Armand Traore suffering a knee injury and Hildeberto Pereira suspended for the trip to South Yorkshire.
Montanier is accustomed to making enforced changes to his rearguard and the situation has taken a toll with Forest conceding 30 league goals this season – only basement boys Rotherham have done worse.
One crumb of comfort for Forest is that tonight’s opponents have not been free-scoring in recent outings.
The Tykes have failed to score in two of their last three home fixtures and were very disappointed to draw 0-0 at home to Wigan on Saturday after dominating from start to finish.
Wigan went to Oakwell with a gameplan and, thanks to a combination of hard work and good fortune, they got the point they were looking for.
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom viewed the match as two points dropped but his team are on a four-match unbeaten run and have steadied the ship since a dodgy spell from mid-September to mid-October which yielded just one point from six games.
Maybe Barnsley became slightly too defensive in their efforts to stop the rot but they are still the joint-third highest scorers in the division alongside Forest, and it should be a matter of time before their lively attack –featuring dangerous front pairing Sam Winnall and Adam Armstrong – starts firing on all cylinders again.
Winnall and Armstrong might just need one goal to get back in the groove and this looks a good opportunity for them to rediscover their scoring touch against patched-up opponents.
3pts 8-5 bet365, Betway
Aidy White (groin) is out but the Tykes have no fresh injuries.
Chris Cohen (thigh) faces three months on the sidelines, Daniel Pinillos (knee) and Armand Traore (knee) out and Britt Assombalonga (hamstring) and Eric Lichaj (calf), face late tests on minor injuries. Hildeberto Pereira is suspended. Nicklas Bendtner and David Vaughan have recently returned to training and could make the bench.
Nottingham Forest have won just one of their last nine away league games