Barnsley boss reveals team plan for Norwich City clash and gives injury update
Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael has revealed that he will field the strongest possible line-up for their FA Cup clash with Norwich City this weekend, with one exception.
The Reds are in fourth-round action on Saturday when they welcome fellow Championship outfit Norwich City to Oakwell.
They progressed to this stage of the competition by seeing off League Two competition in the shape of Tranmere Rovers a fortnight ago, winning 2-0.
In that game they made only three changes to their line-up, bringing back two first-choice players who had previously been unavailable for Covid-related reasons, and switching goalkeeper with second-choice Brad Collins getting a game head of regular pick Jack Walton.
Ismael confirmed to The72 in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Norwich clash that he will take the same approach again this time.
“We are looking to win the next game and we need our players,” he said. “The only change we will make is Brad Collins for Jack Walton. Other things we will see, but for sure we will play with the best team.
“First all because we want to stay in our rhythm because the performances of the team are very good for the moment, and we need to play the game. Second, we need to reward ourselves now and we need our best team.”
His approach is a contrast to many managers who now view the FA Cup as a ‘free hit’ and play a second-string side, resting the regulars and handing opportunities to fringe players.
However, Ismael said that he didn’t believe that was necessary for him, and offered a refreshing view of how the competition should be approached.
“I have big respect for this competition,” the French boss said. “I know that everything is possible, it’s a cup game. It’s a different atmosphere in the cup game and that’s why we have to respect the competition. This is the right way.
“For us it’s only to stay in rhythm. Our guys are young guys and can play every three days. We know how to manage the games and the time between the games.”
Barnsley will be without a number of players though, including new signing Carlton Morris who is cup-tied again.
The forward played in an earlier round of the competition for Milton Keynes Dons, when on loan from Norwich, and so is unable to play against the club he left for Yorkshire a couple of weeks ago.
Elsewhere the options available to Ismael remain the same as they were for their previous game, a 1-0 Championship loss at Watford on Tuesday night.
Their other new January signing, defender Liam Kitching, is yet to play since joining from Forest Green Rovers due to a groin injury.
However, Ismael offered hope that both he and forward George Miller, who has been troubled by a knee problem, could soon come into contention.
“Liam Kitching is near, we will see,” he updated. “We hope he can come back to training next week. George Miller is the same situation. Things are going well. It will be the next week.
However, he added: “For Aapo (Halme) and Jordan Williams it will be a little bit longer, but closer than last week.”
Halme has been out since December, through first a fractured toe and then a muscular injury, while Williams suffered a fresh injury shortly after making his return from a hamstring issue.