reds will give o’grady time to prove fitness

Mickey Mellon

Mickey Mellon

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Barnsley will give top scorer Chris O’Grady until kick-off to check on his fitness ahead of today’s crunch game with Yeovil Town.

The former Sheffield Wednesday striker has been sidelined with a calf strain since the South Yorkshire derby with Doncaster Rovers on November 9.

But the 27-year-old forward trained this week and caretaker-manager Micky Mellon hoped he would have no ill-effects after training on grass yesterday.

With the Reds short on goals, and their league position perilous, Mellon is eager to get O’Grady – who has scored seven goals so far this season – playing although he refuses to rush the player back.

“Chris O’Grady has done a bit of running but I am careful to say that he’s going to be ready yet, because he hasn’t trained on the grass yet,” said Mellon.

“I am hoping to get him on the grass (yesterday) and see how close he is.

“I wouldn’t like to say one player is more important than anyone else, but Chris is certainly an influential footballer for us.

“We won’t take any risks with him, though, there’s a lot of football still to be played and we don’t want to lose him for any longer than we need to.

“We will see if he has any reaction Saturday morning, we will give him every possible opportunity to be involved. We won’t be silly about it though.

“I think everybody’s enjoying their football and everybody wants to be involved. Sedgy (physio Craig Sedgwick) is seeing less of everybody which is good, so we’ll try and keep it that way!”

Barnsley have several loan players whose short-term deals are nearing completion, but Mellon insists any decisions have had to be put on the back burner. It means the future of loan players, like goalkeeper Jack Butland and striker Marcus Tudgay, remains uncertain with regular No 1 Luke Steele still sidelined with a back injury.

“We will keep things private, but things are ongoing,” insisted Mellon.

“I have had a meeting with the chairman and Ben (Mansford, chief executive) and we are in constant dialogue.

“We know that the deadlines are coming up, but for the minute we can only think about Saturday and the next game. We don’t look any further forward than that. They have played their part and we are delighted to have them here.

“The lads are available for this Saturday so let’s get that one out of the way first.

“It is an exciting game for us, we look forward to it and embrace the challenge.

“I am looking forward to the game, it looks like being a good crowd and there’s a lot of positives around the club,” he said. “You can lose sight of that, a lot of good people work here, good footballers, fan base, great facilities.”

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