THE managers of south Yorkshire’s two relegation-threatened clubs in the Championship have sent out a message of defiance ahead of today’s potentially season-defining Easter Monday programme.
Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers lost over the Bank Holiday weekend to remain deep in trouble at the wrong end of the table.
Just six points separate the bottom seven clubs with Danny Wilson’s Reds sitting 23rd on 39 points, four behind Rovers in 19th place.
The game of the day in the second tier comes at The Den as Doncaster take on Millwall, the only team among those under threat of the drop to win over the weekend after beating Middlesbrough at the Riverside.
That nudged Ian Holloway’s men up to fifth bottom, level on points with not only Rovers but also Blackpool in the third and final relegation place.
Paul Dickov’s men head to the capital on the back of four straight defeats, but the Doncaster chief insists his side are capable of returning north with all three points.
He said: “We are still in a decent position. We have teams below us that have to catch us up. And it is in our own hands.
“We need to go to Millwall and get a result. It is imperative that we do that. We have an extra day (on Millwall to rest due to Rovers playing Friday night) and, hopefully, we will have one or two back available.
“I am not going to tell you that it isn’t important. It is the next fixture we have got. But what we have to do is go there with a determination to get back on track and collect three points.
“We will approach Millwall in the only way I know. And that is to go at them.
“We are not far away at this minute. I do feel as if that little bit of quality is missing at the moment, but we have got it (in the squad). We have proved that through the season.”
Asked if he would accept a draw at The Den today to ensure Millwall remain below them in the table, Dickov replied: “You obviously don’t know me well. I want to win every single game I take part in. We are going to Millwall to win.”
Elsewhere in the Championship, bottom club Yeovil Town host Huddersfield Town while fourth-bottom Charlton Athletic travel to Sheffield Wednesday.
Blackpool travel to Brighton & Hove Albion, while Birmingham City, with just two wins at St Andrews all season, host Blackburn Rovers.
Completing the programme involving the bottom seven clubs, Barnsley travel to Derby County on the back of a dire performance in Saturday’s 1-0 derby loss to Leeds United.
Defeat means the Reds sit three points adrift of safety with just three games remaining and with a trip to Middlesbrough to come on Saturday, Wilson knows his side now have little margin for error.
He said: “Three games to go and they are three big games not only for us but those around us as well. There are more people in this situation than just us.
“It is up to them how they respond, but we are confident we can go to Derby and get a result – same with Middlesbrough.
“And if it goes to the final day then we have QPR at Oakwell. What better time to raise your game?”
The 1-0 defeat to Leeds stretched Barnsley’s run of home games without scoring a goal to five. On the road, however, it is a different story with the Reds having beaten Charlton, Yeovil and Reading in their last four trips.
Wilson said: “There is a difference in approach when you are playing at home compared to away. The home team, the onus is on them. That was the case for us against Leeds, who were very well organised.
“Away from home, we have been doing well because teams are having to open up. That may be the case at Derby.
“I am confident we will get out of this. Absolutely. You have to be. If we don’t believe, we might as well go home now. I do think we have to win the last three games. Two maybe. But certainly we are aiming for all three. I think everyone down there will be thinking the same. No team will be thinking ‘one is enough’. They will want all three. After that, it is a toss of a coin.”
Kelvin Etuhu is a major doubt for today’s visit to Pride Park but the injury news for Doncaster ahead of taking on Millwall is much more encouraging.
Not only is Richie Wellens due to return for Rovers but Lucas Neill and James Husband also have a chance of being involved after missing Friday’s 2-0 home defeat to Derby.
Chris Brown is also expected to shake off the tight hamstring that forced the striker to be substituted against the Rams.
On the task of keeping Doncaster up, Dickov added: “It is a challenge but it is great, too. What you want as a manager or a player is challenges put in front of you.
“That is what we have in this league. We got promoted last year and came into a division with massive teams and massive budgets. But we are competing and hanging on in there.
“I firmly believe we will continue to do that. It will be a massive, massive achievement if we stay up. And an achievement we can do.”
Barnsley v Leeds: Page 3.