BARNSLEY midfielder Stephen Dawson is under no illusions about the magnitude of Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby clash with Sheffield Wednesday.
But the Dubliner is adamant victory or defeat for either club at Hillsborough won’t decide their respective Championship fate.
Both clubs are locked in a relegation dogfight, although the Reds are a point ahead of the Owls in the current standings with nine league fixtures remaining.
And, what could prove to be crucial in the final run-in, both the Reds and the Owls have a game in hand on the bottom three clubs.
“Obviously it’s a really big game for both clubs, but whoever wins it won’t stay up or whoever loses won’t go down,” Dawson told The Star.
“We should have won at Oakwell when we played them [Sheffield Wednesday] earlier in the season.
“I thought we were the better side for most of the game, but they nicked a goal and managed to hold on until the end for their victory.
“’Big’ Chris [O’Grady] got the goal for them, which I still wind him up about now that he’s here [on loan] with us.
“But we’ve shown with the run we’ve been on this season what we’re capable of, especially in the last two games with our performances against Brighton and Watford.
“They’re two teams who are expected to get into the Premier League, so to beat them like we did was a great feeling.
“We’d have probably lost both those matches the way we were playing a couple a months ago.
“But we’ve shown a really great fighting spirit and turned things around. We’re treating every game like a final now.”
Dawson is back after a two-month injury lay-off and, with Manchester United loan midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe having returned to Old Trafford, the popular Irishman is bracing himself for a welcome return to the first team.
“It would be a great game to play in, ” added Dawson.
“Sheffield Wednesday have been struggling like us this season, but we know they’ll be fighting for their lives.
“It’s going to be a tough game but it would be nice to get a bit of revenge for them beating us earlier this season.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a great atmosphere. Hopefully we can give our fans something to shout about.
“The fans have really played their part recently and we appreciate their support.”
And Dawson has stressed that he doesn’t want a relegation with the Reds on his CV come the end of the season.
“We know we’re not the best team in the league, you only have to look at the difference in points between us and [league leaders] Cardiff.
“We know we let the old manager [Keith Hill] down, but we’ve got to put that behind us now and make sure we give everything we’ve got to stay in this division.
“Barnsley deserves to be in this league. It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m playing against someone who earns £100 a week or £40,000 a week, I’ll always give my best for this club.
“It was a hard pill to swallow when Keith left, but Flicker [new boss David Flitcroft] has done a great job since he’s taken over.”