A right Royals test for depleted Reds

New boy: Lee Collins may make his debut.          Picture: dean atkins
New boy: Lee Collins may make his debut. Picture: dean atkins
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BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill knows his injury-plagued squad face a “testing” home showdown with Championship title-chasers Reading tomorrow afternoon.

Hill is without nine injured players for the visit of the third-placed Royals to Oakwell, although Port Vale defender Lee Collins could make his debut for the Reds having signed on loan from Port Vale until the end of the season.

Yesterday second-choice keeper David Preece was ruled out for the rest of the season with a fractured wrist, while fellow first-team squad players David Perkins, Bobby Hassell, Jim O’Brien, Rob Edwards, Jay McEveley, Scott Goldbourne, Luke Potter and Jacob Butterfield are also sidelined with injury.

“We’ve got 16 outfield players who are fit, something we’ve got to deal with in the next ten games,” said Hill. “It’s testing, but we’ll be better for it in the long run.”

Having impressed for much of this season with fine wins over Leeds United, Leicester City, Derby County and Portsmouth, the Reds are now experiencing their worst run of the season.

The club have lost four of their last five games and gap between themselves and the bottom three clubs, is now down to 13 points. The Reds impressed to beat Reading 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium earlier in the season thanks to goals from Stephen Foster and Matt Done, but Brian McDermott’s on-song are unbeaten in their last nine games, with eight wins that remarkable run having catapulted them to the top end of the table.

“It’s important we go out there and do the business and eradicate the mini mistakes which have crept into our game which are costing us so severely,” stressed Hill.

“It’s going to be very difficult [from now until the end of season] because I can’t legislate what might happen over the next ten games. I’ve got absolutely no idea what’s going to happen.

“I’m swinging in the wind. I’m not used to swinging in the wing, I’m used to being in control. I’m the one whose normally swinging, but at this moment in time I’m swinging.

“This is the time for business, it’s time for getting the points we need. I don’t want to be sat here in the last two games of the season knowing we need three points to survive.”