Barnsley will play as strong a team as possible in their FA Cup fourth round game at home to Championship leaders Norwich City tomorrow from 3pm, says head coach Valerien Ismael.
The Reds have lost their three league matches so far in 2021, including at Norwich on January 2, leaving them 11th in the Championship – eight points off the top six and 14 clear of the bottom three.
Both Barnsley and the Canaries – who beat another Championship side Coventry City 2-0 in the third round – could have been tempted to make changes to their usual league line-ups.
Whereas Barnsley’s third round game, a 2-0 win over League Two Tranmere Rovers on January 10, was in the middle of two free weeks for the Reds, this match is sandwiched between midweek Championship matches at Watford three days ago and at home to Cardiff City on Wednesday.
Ismael said: “We are looking to win the next game and we need our best players.
“The only sure change we will make is (goalkeeper) Brad Collins for Jack Walton but, for the others, we will see.
“The FA Cup means a lot to me. I loved cup competitions in every country.
“I have great memories of winning cups in France and Germany.
“The FA Cup is special and maybe there is more tradition.
“We take it very seriously. It is a good advert for our team and our players.
“We want to change our form and get a win.
“It is a cup game and it’s a 50/50 situation. Everybody has a chance to win.
“In the last round there were very close games, even for the Premier League clubs.”
Barnsley, should they win, will reach the fifth round for the first time since 2013 when they won at MK Dons before losing 5-0 at Manchester City in the quarter-final.
The draw for the fifth round has already been made, so Barnsley know a victory over Norwich will see them host either Premier League giants Chelsea or their fellow Championship side Luton Town who are due to meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Ismael said: “It is Chelsea or Luton.
“The focus for us is Norwich.
“We have to do our job then see what happens after.”
The Canaries are currently top of the Championship by seven points.
This week they won 2-1 at Cardiff City on Saturday then 2-0 at home to Bristol City on Wednesday. They are on a four-game winning run in all competitions.
Barnsley visited Norwich in the league three weeks ago and lost 1-0 to a strike by Emi Buendia midway through the second half.
The Reds were without several first team players due to Covid-19 including captain Alex Mowatt.
January signings Liam Kitching and Carlton Morris, the former Norwich striker, are both cup-tied for this game.
Ismael said: “Last time we played Norwich it was a tight game and this time we want to be better and go through.
“In the last round they changed almost the whole 11.
“Norwich has a goal to go for the Premier League and the FA Cup is not their first purpose.
“They have a big squad and big players, even if they change five, six or seven players.”
This will be Norwich’s 20th trip to Oakwell.
They won three of the first 13 then were unbeaten there in five visits, with four wins, from 2000 until December 2016 when they lost 2-1 thanks to goals by Tom Bradshaw and Conor Hourihane.
That is the Reds’ only win over the Norfolk club in 16 meetings since 2000.
Norwich returned under current manager Daniel Farke in March 2018 and drew 1-1 with Oli McBurnie putting Jose Morais’ Reds in front before Josh Murphy levelled.
The clubs have been drawn together in the FA Cup three times previously.
Their first ever meeting in any competition was in the FA Cup in 1922 when, after a 1-1 draw at Oakwell, Barnsley won 2-1 at Norwich’s former ground The Nest.
They then were knocked out twice at Carrow Road, by scores of 2-1 in 1953 and 1-0 in 1992.
Tomorrow’s game will be broadcast live on BT Sport.