City have won two of their last nine, losing six, while Barnsley have collected 11 points from their last six Championship games, the division’s fourth best tally in that time.
Struber said: “It is a big task for us but, when we have the right performance and mentality, we can win in Bristol. It is the right time for us to play them. I think my boys have developed and we are very close together. With this energy, it is not so easy for Bristol.”
Barnsley have won two of their last four away games in all competitions, at Millwall in the league then Crewe in the FA Cup. But no side has won fewer on the road in the Championship this season while only Luton have a worse overall record on their travels. Struber said: "It is not so easy for us to pick up points away but we have a good momentum and spirit in the team. We had a very good training week. We are a very very good team now. I trust my boys and I hope we can pick up important points in the next game.”
Bristol City were third after their 2-1 success at Fulham on December 7, having lost just three of their first 20 matches, but they lost four in a row to slip down to tenth in the congested top half of the table.
A 3-0 home win over Luton Town was followed by a 4-0 hammering by visitors Brentford on New Year’s Day. They then won 2-0 at lowly Wigan Athletic on Saturday thanks to two late goals.
Unlike Barnsley, the Robins played in midweek as they lost 1-0 with a full-strength team at League One Shrewsbury Town in an FA Cup replay after a 1-1 draw in the first game. After an eight-match unbeaten run at Ashton Gate, they have lost three of their last four home league games.
They have collected more points from away games than at home this season, as their away record is the fourth best in the division and their home record 18th. When the two teams met on November 1 at Oakwell, the Robins raced into a 2-0 lead but Aapo Halme pulled one back then former City loanee Cauley Woodrow levelled in the 94th minute.
Bristol City have plenty of ex-Reds in their coaching and playing staff. Lee Johnson, who was head coach at Barnsley for just under a year before moving to the Robins in February 2016, is now the longest-serving Championship manager and the fourth longest in the EFL. He has not lost any of his five games against Barnsley with City, drawing three at Oakwell and winning two at Ashton Gate.
One of his first signings was Josh Brownhill who had starred in Barnsley’s promotion in 2015/16 while on loan from Preston North End and the 24-year-old had started every league game this season, scoring five goals, until a foot injury ruled him out on Saturday. He returned for the midweek cup tie.
Brownhill’s former Oakwell team-mate Marley Watkins, who scored 18 goals in 87 games for the Reds, has netted one in seven for the Robins in an injury-plagued season. He is a doubt with a calf problem. Right-back Jack Hunt, 29, played 11 games for the Reds on loan in 2014 while midfielder Korey Smith – who made 12 appearances for the Reds in 2012 – has recently returned after injury.
Barnsley will return to the city where, eight months previously, they celebrated promotion from League One at Bristol Rovers. The meetings between the clubs are usually high-scoring, with 68 goals in the last 15 games, while the Reds have won just two of the last 18 clashes and none of the most recent eight. Barnsley have not won in 16 visits to Ashton Gate since 1993 which have brought 11 defeats including in the two games that Johnson has been in the home dugout. Their 47 visits to Bristol City have brought four wins, nine draws and 34 defeats.