Bradford City v Barnsley FC: All-Yorkshire EFL Trophy group game is no 'dead rubber' for Bantams, insists Graham Alexander
Both City and the Reds have already qualified for the knock-out stages, but Alexander bristles at any suggestions that the all-Yorkshire affair is a 'dead rubber'.
Certainly for his own side, who were left reeling after a wretched first-half performance saw them concede four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 televised League Two loss at Notts County on Saturday.
City have lost five of their last six matches in all competitions and a drama is in danger of lurching into a full-blown crisis if their disappointing form continues.
Manager Alexander said: "If we are putting the kit on, we are there to fight and win. That’s the reality and it’s not a dead rubber when you put a shirt on in professional football.
"We’ll obviously make some changes to the team and give other players an opportunity.
"The second half (at Notts) is what they have got to reproduce. It might not be the same players, but it’s got to be the same performance.
"I was looking at each individual and who was going to ‘chuck it’ and who was going to keep fighting.
"Every single player kept fighting in the second half and that’s a minimum requirement and what we will insist on week in week out."
Both sides - who have taken six points apiece from their two fixtures - may be guaranteed a place in the last-32 draw already, but there is an incentive for the winner.
The group winner will earn themselves a home ground in the next round in December when they will play a runner up from a group in the same north region.
Alexander continued: “I’m not sure if it gets a bad rap. It is a bit down the pecking order for some teams, but I think it’s an amazing opportunity for League One and Two teams to get to Wembley.
"Whether you are a player or a coach, if you have an opportunity, you have got to try and take it.
"We want to win and if you go into any game of football without that in your mind, first and foremost, you should not be in professional football, to be honest.
"We have not been winning enough this season, so any game is one we have to try and win to get the momentum going. Tuesday is a big one for my team."
Barnsley are halfway through a run of four successive away games in all competitions, with Neill Collins's side having shown strong form on the road this term.
They have been beaten just one in nine matches on their travels so far in 2023-24, a 3-0 League One loss at Derby County earlier this month.
Barnsley visit Lincoln City in League One on Saturday, with City having successive home matches this week.
They entertain Accrington Stanley in League Two this coming weekend.