Barnsley v Southampton: Reds intending to focus on big Premier task

Paul DigbyBarnsley's 
Paul Digby
Barnsley's Paul Digby
Barnsley manager David Flitcroft has implored his players to use tonight’s visit of Premier League opposition as an opportunity to sharpen their focus.

The outsider’s view of tonight’s contest at Oakwell would be that it offers a welcome distraction from the rigours of what has so far been a trying start to the Championship season.

The Reds have yet to register a win and have been on ther receiving end of two heavy defeats, most recently a 5-2 reverse at Blackburn.

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Even in progressing to tonight’s second round of the Capital One Cup, where they meet in-form Southampton, Barnsley required a penalty shoot-out to see off League Two side Scunthorpe United.

But instead of sending his players out to enjoy themselves without the pressure of fighting for League points, Flitcroft wants his side to put into practice the positive work they have been doing on the training ground.

“We don’t need a distraction, we need a focus,” said the Reds chief.

“We need to focus on the training ground and we need to focus on our job. Distractions only bring negativity.”

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Flitcroft believes the 5-2 scoreline at Ewood Park on Saturday flattered Blackburn, given the fact that Jean-Yves Mvoto was sent off after only 15 minutes.

The fact Barnsley led at that stage only adds validity to Flitcroft’s argument.

He insists the start to the season has had no effect on the squad’s morale, which last season was sky-high as they surged to Championship survival after looking relegation certainties.

“Can you lose confidence or are you professionals? That’s what I’ll be asking my players before kick-off,” said the manager. “I want them to be professional.

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“Everyone is lauding Blackburn but before we went down to 10 men there was only one team in it.

“So I have taken everything from that game on its merits. Now we move on to Southampton, which is a great test for us.

“From the 11 that played on Saturday, their manager (Mauricio Pochettino) could name a new team of 11 players tonight that are all Championship quality – the likes of Nathanial Clyne etc. That’s the size of the challenge, but it’s one to look forward to.”

Paul Digby, Danny Rose and Dale Jennings could all feature after playing in an Under-21s game yesterday afternoon.

Last six games: Barnsley DLWLDL; Southampton LLDDWD.

Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).

Last time: Barnsley 0 Southampton 1; August 13, 2011; Championship.