West Ham set to give Barnsley tough Easter test

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THE odds may be against Barnsley being dragged into a dramatic end-of-season relegation scrap but boss Keith Hill isn’t taking their Championship status for granted.

A slender 1-0 loss at Ipswich Town on Saturday left the Reds nine points above the drop-zone with just six games to play this season.

And with tough games against West Ham, at Oakwell today, and Blackpool, at Bloomfield Road, to come over what could be a crucial Easter weekend, the Tykes will still be looking over their shoulder until their survival is a certainty this term.

“We’ve got to survive but we’re looking over our shoulder,” said Hill.

“Coventry won, there are six games to play and we’re nine points above the bottom three.

“That’s encouraging but we can’t take anything for granted.

“It’s important we survive and then we can try and grow and establish ourselves next season.”

Nottingham Forest, Millwall and Coventry City, sides all below Barnsley in the table, having been picking up positive results in recent weeks to pile the pressure on the Reds, who sit in 18th.

Bristol City have been the side to drop into the bottom three as a result but Hill won’t let his men rest on their laurels as the season enters its ‘business end’.

The Reds were at least boosted by the return of Jim O’Brien from injury.

O’Brien has been absent for the last five weeks but came on as a second-half substitute at Ipswich and he’ll be hoping to play a part in the Easter weekend fixtures.

The Reds face a tough task against Sam Allardyce’s hit-and-miss West Ham today (kick-off 5.15pm).

A bumper crowd is expected at Oakwell and the Reds will be looking to upset the form guide and inflict defeat on the third-placed Hammers.

See this week’s Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express for all the latest sports news from around the area.