Barnsley FC head coach Michael Duff on Sheffield Wednesday's advantage and why he is not creating an underdog narrative ahead of League One play-off final

BARNSLEY manager Michael Duff insists that his acknowledgement that his Reds side are the 'underdogs' ahead of Monday's League One play-off final with Sheffield Wednesday is no attempt to 'create a narrative' to put pressure on the Owls - but just down to plain facts.

The South Yorkshire rivals go head to head in four days' time, with Wednesday having finished ten points above the Oakwell outfit in the regular season.

Observers will point to the fact that Barnsley did the double over the Owls, but Duff believes that will not give his side a psychological advantage in a one-off final.

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He said: "I'd imagine if you looked at the betting odds, we'll be underdogs. It's not me trying to create a narrative of my own.

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

"They are the facts, they finished on 96 points, God knows how many goals they scored with loads of clean sheets and 23 games unbeaten and they were 4-0 down after the first leg.

"But they are in a one-off game with us now and the positive is we know we can hurt them. Hopefully someone can step and be the hero.

"It's a one-off occasion. Who can handle it the best and deliver the best performance?

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"In the (semi) play-off games, I thought we were the better team and the two referees didn't get involved in the games. We will be looking for the same thing. There's obviously VAR as well, so that will hopefully eradicate any refereeing mistakes.

"I am sure Darren (Moore) will say the same. He just wants the best version of his team and he will be confident will have enough to win it and I am confident my team will have enough to win it."

On whether his side's 4-2 victory over the Owls at Oakwell in March and their 2-0 win at Hillsborough in September - Barnsley were the last team to win in the league at S6 - will count anything, he continued: "They don't. Other than the fact we know we can beat them.

"You can dress it up, but they are older and have a lot more experience and have thousands more league appearances than what we have.

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"That might help them. it might not. Our youth and almost naivety might help us. We won't know until the game pans out.

"There's two distinct ways of playing. We know we can hurt them, but we also know that they are a huge club with big players and big players step up in moments a lot of the time.

"It's enjoy the day as much as we can, but we are not going for a day out, but to win."

Duff, who has no fresh injuries to report, says that his players will visit Wembley on Friday afternoon to familiarise themselves with the surroundings ahead of training at nearby Brentford on Saturday and Sunday.

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He said: "We will have an hour at Wembley. Just to get all the pictures and familiarise themselves for a young team as not many of them have been there. I don't want them 'gawping' around when the game starts!

"It will be a two-day run-in as we always have done. We will train at Brentford and play the game on Monday and try and keep it as normal as we can, without trying to hide the fact that it's a big game at Wembley.

"We have a full squad. Luckily - amazingly - no-one seems to be feeling anything with a big game coming up... Touch wood, the next two or three days training go well. It's the same pool of players to pick from."I just want the players to show the best version of themselves and then we will see what happens.”