AFTER watching Preston’s promotion play-off party from the stands at Wembley last season, Josh Brownhill would dearly love a leading role in helping Barnsley return to the Championship by the same route in late May.
The loan midfielder was left out of the match-day squad in North End’s emphatic League One final win over Swindon at the end of last season and is desperate for a case of second time lucky with the Reds, who are seeking to book their place in the end-of-season lottery in the final three games of the season.
Brownhill, a vital cog in Barnsley’s turbo-charged new year form since arriving from Deepdale on loan for the rest of the season, said: “It was good to go up at Wembley last year but to miss out (playing) is not a great feeling.
“But for the boys who played in the second half of last season, it was amazing. So, hopefully, I want to be involved this time and to be promoted would be even better.”
If Barnsley are to book their place in the top six, few can say they will not have deserved it, more especially with tough away assignments at Sheffield United and Wigan being on the menu in their final three matches of a roller-coaster season.
Derby bragging rights will assume secondary importance to three play-off points at the Lane, with Brownhill under no illusions about the stakes this afternoon and acknowledging Barnsley will be under more pressure.
The midfielder, who scored at Bramall Lane in the league last term and was part of the Preston side who also won 3-1 there in the FA Cup, said: “It is massive for the fans and for us – and it would be huge getting the three points.
“I’d say we will be probably under more pressure. We want to get into the play-offs and if we beat them, we will be getting really close to being in there.”
On today’s opponents, who still possess an outside chance of the play-offs if they win, Brownhill – who will turn thoughts to his long-term future in the summer – added: “With the money they have got and players they have, they should be a lot higher than where are.
“But that just proves money doesn’t get everything.”