Barnsley captain Alex Mowatt could miss Sunday’s trip to Swansea City after being the latest player to suffer from illness.
The influential midfielder came off in injury-time in the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion yesterday and has not been in training today. Head coach Gerhard Struber told the Chronicle: “Mowatt is ill. He has no training. I think he has a fever. It is difficult for him to play in the next game. But maybe he will, it is not sure yet.
“He is a very very important player for my team. He is one of the leaders, he gives the boys a good feeling and also he can create normally a very very good performance. It’s painful when he cannot play.”
Striker Patrick Schmidt and winger Mamadou Thiam have also been left out of squads in recent weeks due to illness. Struber said: “It’s a difficult situation. We have also the youth team players here and there is a lot of people. It’s the same in all football clubs and it is the time of year.”
The Reds are set to make their longest journey of the season to Swansea who are eighth, two points off the play-offs. The Swans appointed England under 17 World Cup-winning manager Steve Cooper in the summer and he collected 16 points from the first 18 available as a club boss with the Welsh side being the early pacesetters at the top of the division.
They then won just three of 15 including a six-match winless run which they ended last week with a 3-1 home success over Middlesbrough. They won 1-0 at Luton Town, with an 82nd-minute goal, on Saturday and lost 3-1 at Brentford yesterday. Swansea won their first five home games of the season in all competitions but have only won two of their last nine, losing five.
Struber said: “It is a long journey but this is not a problem, we are professional. We will drive on Saturday. The opponent is a little bit similar to West Brom in their style. They have good quality in attack. They play possession football and they are one of the best in the league in that style. We want to play that possession style more, especially when we play so many games so quickly, because it means we don’t have to run so many metres.
“In Swansea, we will need every player to be at their personal limit. This is now our chance to get a lot of points. A normal performance is not enough for points, we always need more. We need to get out of our comfort zone in every game and, when we do that, we can win against any opponent in this league.
"Yesterday I saw the leaders and they are not a magic team. They are a normal team with high quality in their attack. Barnsley has a top mentality and good style and, when we have good teamwork, it will not be easy to play against us.”
Struber was impressed by the crowd of more than 17,000 yesterday for the first Boxing Day game of his career. Struber said: “The fans are completely different to Austria. One club in Austria, Rapid Vienna, have 20,000 fans in the stadium and Red Bull Salzburg when they play Champions League. But the other clubs have 5,000 or 6,000 fans in the stadium. Barnsley’s support is very big and the Boxing Day atmosphere was amazing. It was a very great day for me. It was my first Boxing Day without my family but it was very special.”
Barnsley won their last away game at Millwall on Saturday, their first victory on the road this season. Struber said: “The games at Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Cardiff were very close. Then Millwall showed us we have the power and the right plan and I hope that we can win again against Swansea.”