The second-bottom Reds are five points adrift of safety because, although their Friday night draw with Bristol City cut the gap to three points, results the following day left them deeper in trouble.
Stoke are one place and one point below their hosts for tomorrow’s game which is the last before a two-week international break. Murray told the Chronicle: “Stoke are a really interesting one. Obviously they are on a tough run, a bit like ourselves. But, on paper, they have an unbelievable squad full of Premier League players.
“It’s a game against the side below us in the table, so it is a big opportunity, but it will be a challenge for us because of the match-winning quality and the experience Stoke have. The pressure will be on them because no one expected them to be in this position, with the players they have, but we have just got promoted and we are adapting to the new league. There is less pressure on us and we can go out and express ourselves.”
Murray was reluctant to call the game ‘must win’ but admitted a first victory in 14 games would have a huge impact. He said: “I wouldn’t say a win has got to come but I want it to come more than anything for this group of players. They are crying out for a win. I really believe that a win would take us to the next level and push us on.
“I could call it a must-win or a 48-pointer but there will still be 30 games to play after this match. It is definitely a massive game because of the position both clubs are in. The most important thing a win would give us is a big boost to the players and the momentum to go on and get even more wins which I believe we are very capable of.”
The Potters sacked manager Nathan Jones on Friday of last week. They appointed former Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill today and he will take charge of tomorrow's game.
Stoke have former Barnsley goalkeeper and captain Adam Davies as well as centre-back Liam Lindsay who were both key players in last season’s promotion. Davies is yet to make his debut, only featuring once on the bench in a league game, while Lindsay has been in and out of the side.
Murray said: “Everybody at our club has been surprised not to see Adam Davies playing at all this season, especially considering Stoke’s league position. Liam has been in and out and he picked up an injury on Monday, so I don’t know whether he will play either. They are really good guys and they were very good players for Barnsley. Our lads will be pleased to see them, if they are at Oakwell for the game, but they will also want to beat them.”
Barnsley’s next eight games before Christmas are against bottom club Stoke, 16th-placed Blackburn Rovers, 22nd-placed Middlesbrough, 11th-placed Hull City, 14th-placed Cardiff City, 19th-placed Reading, ninth-placed QPR and 17th-placed Millwall. Murray said: “To the outside world, the fixtures we have coming up in November and possibly December are must-wins. But I think, whoever we play, we need to win. The draws have been great, giving us a foothold and giving the boys confidence, but we are better off winning one then losing one.”