Coventry City’s trip to Barnsley has banana skin written all over it.

The Tykes are only a season ahead of the Sky Bues in terms of their return to Championship football but only just, having stayed in the second tier by the skin of their teeth last term.

And a measure of just how tough it is at the level can be seen by the South Yorkshire club’s difficult start to the new campaign, having lost their opening league games at home to Luton and away at Reading, with a 6-0 midweek thumping at Chelsea thrown in.

It’s the sort of fixture that City fans will be looking at and thinking their team needs to get something.

There’s the old boy factor, of course, with both Conor Chaplin and Luke Thomas regular Oakwell fixtures.

Here, Doug O’Kane, sports editor of the Barnsley Chronicle, runs the rule over Saturday’s opponents:

Pick of the summer signings and why?

He’s not a new signing, as he was also on loan last season, but bringing right wing-back Kilian Ludewig back on loan for a season from Red Bull Salzburg was big news for Barnsley.

The 20-year-old is a regular for the Germany under 20s team and has made a big impression since arriving in January.

They are still searching for a new striker, having sold Jacob Brown to Stoke City last week.

Injuries/suspensions:

Out: Ben Williams (knee).



Barnsley boss Gerhard Struber

Likely line-up and formation:

(3-4-1-2): Jack Walton; Michael Sollbauer, Michal Helik, Mads Andersen; Kilian Ludewig, Alex Mowatt, Callum Styles, Clarke Oduor; Luke Thomas; Conor Chaplin, Cauley Woodrow

How have Conor Chaplin and Luke Thomas settled in at the club and how have they started the season?

Conor Chaplin scored 11 Championship goals last season, something only achieved by a handful of Barnsley players in the 21st century.

He has been used up front under Gerhard Struber, netting seven goals in the head coach’s first seven league games after the head coach’s arrival in November.

But he has only netted twice in his last 21 Championship matches and has been in and out of the starting 11 of late. He played his 50th match for the club at Reading on Saturday.



Conor Chaplin of Barnsley reacts after missing a chance during the Sky Bet Championship match between Barnsley and Luton Town at Oakwell Stadium on September 12, 2020

Luke Thomas has not scored a league goal since his debut on the first day of last season.

He gets into very good positions with his pace and dribbling ability but admits himself that his end product needs improvement and has been doing extra work on that on the training ground.

He is naturally a winger but Barnsley do not play wingers in their 3-4-1-2 formation so he has become a number ten and is battling Cauley Woodrow and Elliot Simoes for that spot.

How have Barnsley started the season and how will they approach the game?

It’s been a tough start to the season but still very early days.

They enjoyed good wins in the EFL Cup over Championship sides Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough before being thrashed 6-0 at Chelsea on Wednesday.

In the league, they just did not get going against a physical Luton Town side in their first match, a 1-0 home loss.



Luke Thomas of Barnsley celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal of the match during the Sky Bet Championship match between Barnsley and Fulham at Oakwell Stadium last year – his only league goal for the Tykes to date.

They were much better at Reading on Saturday but then had two men sent off and lost 2-0. They are struggling to take their chances, having scored just seven goals in their last 13 league games.

In terms of how they will approach the game, the Reds like to build up from the back in possession and they also press the opposition intensely.

They enjoy playing against teams like Coventry who also pass out from the back so will be hoping to rattle the Sky Blues and dispossess them high up the pitch.

Barnsley managed to stay up by the skin of their teeth last season, what’s the biggest challenge facing newly promoted sides?

There is a gap between League One and the Championship but, in my opinion, it’s not the gaping chasm that some people make out – especially this season when the usual massive spending has been limited by the Coronavirus crisis.

There is clearly a massive difference in budget between the top clubs, sustained by huge money from spells in the Premier League, and those lower down.

But there are plenty of clubs who just survive at this level and constantly fight relegation battles so a newly-promoted team can leap above them with momentum and some quality, which Coventry appear to have.

The challenge is then keeping the star players and maintaining the club’s status in the league year after year on a comparatively small budget.

It’s a cliche but you do get punished more for your mistakes at this level than in the lower divisions.





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