The Reds are 23rd, six points behind the fourth-bottom Addicks. No Championship side has fewer wins, points or goals away from home this season than Barnsley, but they return to South East London where they gained their only victory on their travels in the league at Millwall just before Christmas.
Charlton – who won the League One play-off final in May – enjoyed a much better start to the season than fellow promoted side Barnsley. The Addicks were seventh after 12 games, two points off the automatic promotion places and 14 clear of the last-placed Reds. But, in the three and a half months since then, Lee Bowyer’s men have won one of 17 league matches, losing ten and drawing six.
They beat Bristol City 3-2 at home on Boxing Day but their six games after that in all competitions have brought four defeats and two draws. As they are out of the FA Cup, their most recent game was on Wednesday of last week when they drew 0-0 at home to high-flying Fulham in a London derby. They have won one of their last nine games at The Valley, losing five.
Struber said: “It is an important game but it is not the final game, we have 16 more after this. It is very important to show our fans a better performance and for our feeling in the squad. I believe we will win on Saturday. For us, it is very important that we have a big focus and concentration on what we can influence. When we win, Charlton will be nearer the relegation zone, but our aim is more to bring a good performance. One of the consequences is that Charlton will go down in the table.”
Several of Barnsley’s fellow bottom six sides picked up victories this week as, after Stoke City won on Saturday, Tuesday saw late winners for Luton Town, Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town. Struber said: “We saw in the last games from the other teams like Stoke and Wigan that they are now in a winning mode. It is a tough league and every game is a very big game.”
The Reds have lost their last three matches, with a 1-0 defeat at Bristol City followed by performances that upset Struber in their 3-0 home league loss to Preston North End and 4-2 defeat at League One Portsmouth in the FA Cup. Struber said: “In every case we must create a better game, especially in set plays and also when we are on the ball. The boys understand after Portsmouth what was our big problem.
“We have had a very good training week and we will create a very good performance. We hope we can bring a similar performance like the games before Preston and Portsmouth, because those games were not the normal style that we can show. We are in a good way, we have had good team-building and we have brought new players into the squad. “We want to show our away fans what we can do and every single player needs to come out of their comfort zone and give everything.”
Barnsley have lost just two of the last 12 meetings with Charlton since 1999, a 6-0 thrashing at Oakwell in 2013 and a 2-0 defeat at The Valley last season. They won the reverse fixture last season 2-1 at Oakwell with Brad Potts and Mamadou Thiam netting in the first 14 minutes. The home meeting this season ended in a 2-2 draw, with Bambo Diaby conceding an 89th minute penalty after Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin netted. Barnsley did not win any of their first 21 trips to Charlton, with 13 losses and eight draws between 1930 and November 2008 when a Jon Macken brace and Darren Moore’s strike secured a 3-1 victory. They also won their next two games at the Valley with Tomasz Cywka netting the only goal in 2012 then, two years later, Tom Kennedy and Jean Yves M’voto struck in a 2-1 success.