Hill: Pressure off Barnsley going into Birmingham City clash

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BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill says there will be no pressure on his men in tomorrow night’s rearranged Championship clash with in-form Birmingham City at Oakwell (kick-off 7.45pm).

The Blues, placed sixth in the table, are one of the form teams of the division and make the trip to South Yorkshire hot-on-the-heels of an impressive draw against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The Reds go into the game having won their last two home matches, the latest a 2-0 win over crisis-hit Portsmouth at the weekend, but Hill may use the game as a chance to tinker with his team ahead of what he believes is a more important match against struggling Coventry City on Saturday.

“We have got quality and it’s a pressure-free game for us because they’re flying high, it’s a big game for them,” he said.

“We got the three points that we needed against Portsmouth, it sits us nicely in 14th place but there’s a massive difference between us and them [Birmingham] and the spend power and their ambitions to get back into the Premier League.

He continued: “I’ve got to be mindful of the games that are coming up. Every game’s important but we’ve got must-win games coming up against teams in and around us. They’re the ones where we’ve created our own mini league and we’ve got to make sure we’re very competitive in those games.”

Hill said Scott Golbourne is likely to be rested while Chris Dagnall could get a start in attack and new signing Stephen Dawson has a chance of getting his first run-out in a Barnsley shirt, but said there’s “no real rush” for the midfielder to return from injury.

David Perkins will miss out through injury but Hill said it’s a good opportunity for the former Colchester United man to rest and recover.

“He’s injured, he’ll be out for at least three weeks but I think it’s a great opportunity for him to rest,” said Hill.

“It’s been a massive season for him, his first season in the Championship. It’s an opportunity for him to rest and to get his energy back because I feel it’s what’s been missing from his performances.

“He’s an excellent player, he’s proved that he can compete at this level and quite often after matches the opposition managers have spoke highly of him but he does need a rest. It has taken it’s toll, as it has on most players who’ve competed for the first time in the Championship. He’ll be missed, he’ll be out on the training pitch but he’ll be back.”

Hill is full of praise for Birmingham manager Chris Hughton and believes the Blues will be firmly in the mix for a return to the Premier League this season.

He acknowledged: “They’ve got the real bit and the competitions they’ve been in they’ve excelled in. I’ve watched them, I’ve got a deep respect for Chris Hughton and his backroom staff and they’re doing excellent and they’ll be one of the promotion rivals there’s no question about that.

“They were brilliant against Chelsea at the weekend, very resolute and scored a very good goal and they don’t look out of place so I expect them to be challenge for Premier League automatic promotion.”

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