Crewe Alexandra v Barnsley: Time on Tykes side for late play-off push

Barnsley's Marley Watkins.

Barnsley's Marley Watkins.

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INTERIM manager Paul Heckingbottom is refusing to throw in the towel in Barnsley’s pursuit of gatecrashing the League One play-offs come May.

The Tykes are currently 10th, six points behind sixth-placed Coventry City, who have a game in hand.

Barnsley are fighting with Yorkshire rivals Bradford City and Sheffield United for a play-off berth, and Heckingbottom is hoping his side can take the race right up until the final day of the season.

The Reds have 13 games remaining after today’s trip to strugglers Crewe Alexandra, but are in good form, having suffered just one defeat in 2016. Last time out saw them drop two points in a 0-0 draw at strugglers Bury.

“If you’re in single figure games, it is a big gap,” said Heckingbottom.

“Everyone can go on good and bad runs but we keep trying to claw those gaps back.

“If we’re only two points away on the last game of the season then we’re still in with a chance of making it.”

Not that Heckingbottom expects an easy game today, against a Crewe side who won at Oakwell back in October.

“You sort of know what to expect from Crewe,” he said. “To be fair to them, they’ve always been down there and every season they’ve put a good run together and got out of trouble.

“We need to hope that they are not getting any sort of form or run from Saturday’s game.

“We both have fairly young teams and we’re both looking to develop our young players. It’s a game where we both need points for different reasons.

“It will be a tense game, but hopefully an entertaining affair.

“We’ve had lots of games lately and people carrying things.

“Conor Hourihane has an ongoing hamstring problem, Marley (Watkins) has had a sore toe for a while but it’s nothing the medical team can’t look after.

“It’s just a case of getting the lads enough training but also making sure they’re getting enough training to benefit their injuries.”

Barnsley winger Adam Hammill begins a three-match suspension following his red card in the midweek draw at Bury.

Defender Aidan White will miss most of the season with a serious knee injury, although the Reds hope surgery can be avoided for him to return before the summer.

Last six: Crewe DDWDDL, Barnsley WDWLWD.

Referee: S Stockbridge (Tyne).

Last time: Crewe 1 Barnsley 2; August 16, 2004; League One.

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