The Reds are currently 23rd, three points behind fourth-bottom Stoke City and ahead of bottom club Luton Town on goal difference. Huddersfield are 20th, five points clear of the relegation zone and seven ahead of the Oakwell club who they beat 2-1 in West Yorkshire in October.
Barnsley’s unbeaten run of five matches came to an end with a 2-1 loss at Derby County on Thursday of last week then they won 3-1 at League Two Crewe Alexandra in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday. Huddersfield lost 2-0 at Premier League club Southampton in the cup on Saturday, and they have now won just three of their last 12 matches.
Struber said: “Huddersfield is a big team, they have a clear plan on the ball. They are very aggressive off the ball. They played very well against Southampton in the FA Cup. It’s a difficult task but we have a good self-confidence and we know what we can do. It’s the right time for Huddersfield to come and play a big derby. When we have the right focus, we can win this game. We need clear positioning in this game and clear passes in the final third with more conviction.”
Barnsley are currently unbeaten in their last four home games, having failed to win their previous nine. They defeated Hull City and Queens Park Rangers while drawing 1-1 with both Reading and high-flying West Bromwich Albion. Their only defeat in their last eight games at Oakwell since September was a 4-2 loss to fellow relegation-battlers Stoke in November, the game before Struber was appointed. The Terriers are expected to bring more than 4,000 fans to Oakwell.
Struber said: “It’s a new situation and a new opponent but we have a good feeling at home and, with our fans, it is special for me and my team. “I think the atmosphere at Oakwell is always very big and amazing. “In a derby, I think many people from Huddersfield are coming so it will be a big atmosphere. I hope we create a big performance for our fans.”
The head coach is focusing on each individual game and not the league table. He said: “We want to climb up this season but it is not that when we win everything is OK or we lose everything is bad. It’s a big race and, in the end, we have our nose before the other clubs.”
Struber’s first six weeks as Barnsley head coach saw them play 11 games, including five in 15 days over the Christmas and New Year period. They have just completed the first of four weeks out of five in which they only have one match, leaving the Austrian free to work with his squad – including new signings – throughout the week on the training pitch. Struber returned to Austria after the Crewe game and gave his players some days off but they have been back to training as normal for the remainder of this week.
He said: “It is very important. “In the last weeks we cannot train, we have only regeneration. “For me, January is very important to bring my ideas into the players’ minds more. “We have the necessary time to do it. This is very important because the last games were very hard and it left our energy very low.”
Tomorrow, bottom club Luton are due to host 18th-placed Birmingham City who have won one of their last 12 league games and are six points clear of the relegation zone. Fourth-bottom Stoke are set to host high-flying Millwall with 22nd-placed Wigan Athletic set to welcome mid-table Bristol City. After tomorrow’s match, the Reds are due to visit Bristol City the following Saturday, then host Preston North End on Tuesday January 21 before travelling to Portsmouth in the FA Cup and Charlton Athletic on February 1.