Michael Duff on why Barnsley FC's next League One opponents Oxford United are a top-ten side' and not a traditional relegation candidate

BARNSLEY head coach Michael Duff has issued a warning to his Reds side ahead of Saturday's League One home game with relegation-haunted Oxford United - and insists they will play like a 'top-ten side.'

The mood in both camps could not be starker, with the Reds, still in with an outside chance of breaking into the top two, having won 12 of their last 13 league fixtures at Oakwell, with their only defeat since the autumn coming on January 2.

By contrast, the lowly U's are winless in 16 matches since a victory over Ipswich in January and just one place and point above the side occupying the final relegation spot in Cambridge United.

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Twelve months ago, Oxford just missed out on the play-offs and totalled 76 points, with their fortunes having unravelled since.

Michael Duff. Picture: Bruce RollinsonMichael Duff. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Michael Duff. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Despite their demise, Duff insists the U's are far from a 'traditional' relegation candidate.

He said: "They missed out and you look at MK Dons and you look where they are. They were in the play-offs last year and sold quite a lot of players and dismantled half of their team and have really struggled.

"We did the same (last season). Granted, we have come down a division and we have managed to turn the wheel back the other way.

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"I cannot stress enough that Oxford are a good team and play good football. They won't be, without being too stereotypical, like a team at the bottom of the league who get it forward and defend in a low block. They will play like a top-ten team.

"Whether their confidence is not as high; I'd imagine it won't be because they have not won for a while. But we cannot give them any encouragement.

"We need to get on the front foot and kill any spirit they have got with our intensity and quality and hopefully we can win the game."