Reds are preparing to sting Zola’s Hornets

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IT is a case of ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ for Barnsley, who fresh from their midweek encounter against on-song Brighton, now face the Championship form side of 2013 in Watford at Oakwell.

No-one has taken more points this calendar year than Gianfranco Zola’s second-placed Hornets, who also have the best haul of points away from home in the Championship this season with an impressive 33.

Flitcroft is the first to acknowledge the extent of the Reds’ task as they chase a sixth home win in seven encounters.

But, equally, he is not cowed by the challenge and neither should he be after the impressive victory over Gus Poyet’s Seagulls, whose Championship form in the New Year has been bettered only by Watford.

Flitcroft, whose side moved two points above the drop zone up to fourth from bottom following the 2-1 victory over Brighton – their sixth in 11 league matches under his command – said: “I watched them the other night and Watford have got a bit of everything this season.

“They play two different systems and will pass you to death at home and then they will sit down and counter-attack away from home.

“They are a very good team and we have some big games coming up. But we will be ready.”

Flitcroft says he will continue to manage the match-day workload of club stalwarts and former 
captains Stephen Foster and Bobby Hassell for the rest of the season.

Foster had started the weekend FA Cup tie with Manchester City but was replaced by Rory Delap and was not even on the bench against Albion.

Hassell, an unused substitute against City, came on for the last 11 minutes on Tuesday with Flitcroft full of praise for the experienced duo’s input.

Flitcroft said: “Foz is going to struggle when we have Saturday-Tuesday games. The day I took the job, I showed him the calendar and where he might play and not – the same with Bobby.

“But when they have been out of the team, the way they have supported it has been unbelievable and that is important for this group.

“Foz was the first one who came in after Tuesday and he was also there at half-time, giving me a few little details of what he had seen up in the stand.

“This is a real together unit here at Barnsley.”

Watford manager Zola has told his players to get last week’s home loss to Blackpool out of their system.

Zola, who is once again without injured midfielder Almen Abdi, said: “Pressure is only something that exists when you think about it. If you keep your mind occupied on the pitch, the results will come.”