An Oakwell derby draw with Doncaster Rovers, in which the Reds were second-best and fortunate to claim a point, was followed by a 4-2 midweek defeat at League One promotion rivals Sunderland, with Stendel’s side seeking to end a challenging week on a positive note at Roots Hall this afternoon.
In the process, today’s FA Cup assignment in Essex has probably heightened in importance at the start of a pivotal spell for the Reds, who face at least eight long trips south in all competitions between now and early March.
Changes will be made today, with several players in need of game time, but assistant head coach Andreas Winkler insists that fans should be left under no illusions that the cup matters to Barnsley in its own right.
Winkler, who has spoken of his perfect scenario of the Reds securing a dream draw with compatriot Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the third round, said: “We have a young squad and lots of players who are pushing for the first 11. And we do not differentiate between a cup match and a league one.
“We will hopefully show our best performance and put 100 per cent into this match to get into the next round and maybe get a good opponent. I am sure this will be a very tough match.
“We will make changes, not only because we have had a midweek game. It is because we have players on the bench who are really good and deserve to start from the beginning.
“I am sure we will have a starting 11 who are really strong and can go for this challenge. It is a very important game for the club and we go for everything.”
After cruising into the second round of the cup by comprehensively brushing aside a confidence-sapped Notts County outfit in the first round three weeks ago, Winkler acknowledges that the narrative is somewhat different ahead of a trip to a Shrimpers side who trounced Crawley 6-2 in an opening-round replay on November 20.
Winkler added: “The FA Cup starts from zero and we now play away, so it is a totally different match.
“It is our longest trip since I have been here and we really have to step up our efforts.”