Foot Predictions shows Wednesday’s championship clash between Barnsley and Stoke City, including hunches, preview and possible lineups.
Barnsley and Stoke City play the championship on Wednesday night with just a goal difference separating the two clubs in search of the playoffs.
While the Tykes have been unbeaten in their last five games in the second division, the Potters have recently returned to the right track with consecutive home wins.
In the weeks after the turn of the year, Barnsley’s promising form under Valerien Ismael it began to fall apart, creating the prospect that the rest of the campaign would be spent in the middle of the table.
Three consecutive wins by losing just one goal have changed the club’s trajectory, however, and now they feel they can play in the playoffs.
Sitting just six points off Reading, fifth place, with one game less, Ismael knows that the Tykes are close to becoming an important player in the promotion race, a notable change in luck after narrowly avoiding relegation in July.
Ismael will emphasize that his players must play one game at a time, but he can only have been positive after the impacts caused by the January arrivals Carlton Morris and Daryl Dike.
Morris scored in three consecutive games, an important contribution with the best scorer Cauley Woodrow having failed to score in five games.
With regard to Stoke, Michael O’Neill he will be relieved that his team has recovered to claim successive victories against Sheffield Wednesday and Luton Town.
A win in 13 second division games left the Potters out of the top six, but they are now behind Bournemouth by just four points, with 15 games to go.
Although Stoke’s two recent triumphs have taken place at bet365 Stadium, they now travel to Yorkshire believing that they can finally end a nearly three-month wait for victory away from home.
Nick Powell and Steven Fletcher scored Stoke’s last eight goals, a period extending to the final stage of the 3-3 draw at Rotherham United on 19 January.
Barnsley Championship form: LDDWWW
Barnsley form (all competitions): DDLWWW
Stoke City championship form: LDDLWW
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O’Neill is expected to keep changes to a minimum after Stoke did well against Luton on Saturday.
Sam Clucas or James McClean could replace Josh Tymon on the left, but Fletcher must get rid of a hit to stay on the attack.
Morris will almost certainly win a recall for Barnsley XI, probably taking Dike’s place.
With Ismael having recently spoken about the rotation of his defenders, Toby Sibbick is an alternative for Michael Sollbauer.
Possible initial Barnsley lineup:
Walton; Andersen, Helik, Sibbick; Brittain, Palmer, Mowatt, Styles; Morris, Woodrow, Chaplin
Possible starting lineup for Stoke City:
Gunn; Smith, Batth, Souttar, Norrington-Davies; Allen, Thompson; Brown, Powell, Clucas; Fletcher
Probability: Barnsley 1-1 Stoke City
While both teams are confident of earning maximum points at Oakwell, they will also be concerned with giving opponents an advantage in the playoff race. With that in mind, expect a low-scoring dispute in Yorkshire, which could end in a draw.
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