Academy aces Jon Stones and Paul Digby have been drafted into the Barnsley squad for tomorrow’s mouth-watering local derby clash with Leeds United at Oakwell.
Barnsley boss Keith Hill says he is ‘back down to the bare bones’ following injuries to key personnel.
Loan men Nile Ranger and Danny Drinkwater are definitely out, as is Reuben Noble-Lazarus, and Jim O’Brien is rated doubtful because of a stomach muscle problem he picked up in the Boxing Day defeat to Blackpool.
Ranger has returned to Newcastle, after his loan spell was cut short to a twisted ankle, while Drinkwater is also back at Manchester United having treatment on a torn thigh muscle.
Hill initially hoped to have had Drinkwater available for tomorrow’s fixture, but the Reds chief will have to do without his influence in the middle of the park. He will now try and land the 21-year-old on an extended loan deal until the end of the season.
Another loanee, Miles Addison, is scheduled to return to Derby after the Leeds match.
Stones (aged 17) and Digby (16) are highly-rated by the Barnsley management.
Stones, a defender, has yet to make a first team appearance but has produced some terrific performances as captain of the Oakwell Academy side, while midfielder Digby made his senior bow as a first half substitute for the injured David Perkins in the 1-1 draw at Derby back in September.
Barnsley beat Leeds 2-1 at Elland Road in November, but have now lost three matches in a row, to Ipswich, West Ham and Blackpool.
The 3-1 home loss to Blackpool on Boxing Day provided excellent Championship entertainment but not the right outcome for the Reds. There were defensive errors and fluffed scoring chances, something that Hill hopes can be rectified against Leeds.
The Oakwell manager has to decide whether to tinker with his back four, with the experienced pair of Bobby Hassell and Stephen Foster pressing for recalls after being dropped for the last two matches.
And if O’Brien fails to make it, then Hill has to decide who will make up his midfield.
Leeds, who have lost their last two matches 1-0, to slip out of the play-off places, have injury problems of their own.
The £3m-rated Robert Snodgrass seems certain to miss out after undergoing an appendix operation, while Johnny Howson remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Defender Tom Lees is doubtful due to concussion.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson used striker Ross McCormack in midfield during the Boxing Day defeat at Derby.
Tickets are selling fast for the game, which kicks off at 1pm. It will be Barnsley’s biggest crowd of the season, comfortably surpassing the 11,783 that watched the Reds’ 2-0 win over Doncaster Rovers in November.
There is limited availability in the East Stand and the Pontefract Road End.
Leeds are expected to be backed by over 6,000 fans in the North Stand.