The Reds are currently in the highest of the three relegation places in the Championship table with five points from eight games, but they have drawn praise for their displays in the 0-0 draw at Wigan Athletic and the narrows losses to Leeds United and Nottingham Forest.
Coach Chris Stern told the Chronicle: “It doesn’t help you that much if you play good and you lose. You still have to grab some points. Our performances have put us in a positive way and we are on the right track to win games and pick up points. The confidence is the same as at the start of the season, the last performances have shown that. Even if the players do have a little dip in confidence, it is up to us as coaching staff to keep it high.”
The Reds have not netted in three games and only four times in their nine matches this season. Stern added: “We have performed well against good teams, but you have to score goals to win. We work on it in training and try to keep the lads as confident as possible. We are creating chances and it’s just the first stone that has to fall then the goals will come. It is important we don’t turn negative, we keep the confidence in our strikers and they will score.
“Sometimes it is about how you take a shot, how convinced you are to score. We haven’t done anything different in training. It’s about getting in good scoring positions and, the more attempts you have, the more chance you have to score. We are positive and convinced we will score and get some points.”
Stern said that Aapo Halme was ‘probably going to be OK for the weekend’ after coming off in Nottingham. On Halme’s fellow centre-back Bambo Diaby, who has missed the last three games with an ankle problem, Stern said: “We are balancing his load in training. He was training with us last week then we took him out for a few days. He is back with us today. It depends how he feels during training then we will make a decision for Sunday.”
Right-back Dimitri Cavare is expected to miss the game through injury but could return on Wednesday against Derby County, as could left-back Ben Williams who is set to serve the last match of a three-game suspension on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Sami Radlinger’s knee injury is healing quicker than first thought with the Austrian, initially expected to be out until December, possibly returning in ‘a couple of weeks’ according to Stern. Central midfielder Kenny Dougall could play for the under 23s today as his return after six months out is almost complete.
Brentford spent more money in the last off-season than any other Championship club, bringing in ten new players for a combined total of about £30million having sold Neal Maupay and Ezri Konsa for a similar amount. Their summer changes have not brought them immediate success as they have only won two of their eight league matches so far this season. Their last match was a 0-0 home draw with Stoke City on Saturday which left them 17th in the table with eight points from as many games.
Thomas Frank's team have netted only five goals which makes them the division's second lowest-scorers behind Barnsley with four. Brentford won their first away game of the season at Middlesbrough but have since lost at Leeds United, Charlton Athletic and Preston North End without scoring.
Stern said: “You have to put Brentford’s performances in perspective. They are underachieving, in terms of the results they have had from the performances they have had. They are a pretty strong team, with good quality. They are similar to us in pressing high and creating chances but the only negative is they didn’t score. I hope it is a game that suits us in front of the TV cameras and we want to put a good performance in. When I think back to the TV games last season, we had very good performances and we want to keep that run of winning games in front of the cameras.”
This match could bring a return to Oakwell for one of last season's promotion heroes Ethan Pinnock. The centre-back played every game as Barnsley finished second in League One before being sold to Brentford for £3million. He was a regular starter in the opening weeks of the season but has been dropped for the last three games. Stern said: “He was an important player and we were all sad when we sold Ethan. That he is not in their starting 11 shows how high quality this league is and how much quality Brentford have in their squad.”
After being unbeaten in 29 home league games across nearly 18 months, the Reds have lost their last two Oakwell fixtures – 3-1 to Luton Town and 2-0 to Leeds United. Stern said: “We lost after many months, at some point you will lose a game at Oakwell. But especially against Leeds you could feel the support and togetherness from the fans. That is what we need from Barnsley Football Club and how we will win games.”