Valerien Ismael has challenged his Barnsley side to display a ‘winning mentality’ as they seek their first Championship victory of 2021 at lowly Nottingham Forest tomorrow.

The Reds have taken only one point from their four league games in 2021 as, after losing to the top three, they let slip a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw with Cardiff City on Wednesday.

Forest are 20th in the league, two points clear of the relegation zone and ten behind the 12th-placed Reds.

Ismael said: “We need to make a breakthrough with a win to go back up the table. We need the winning mentality back. We know it will be a tough game in Nottingham who are a strong team.

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“It is another way to play football with a lot of pressing. It is all about getting the points to get our job done.”

Forest were thrashed 5-1 in the FA Cup at Swansea on Saturday but have had a full week without a game whereas Barnsley played on Wednesday. Ismael said: “They have a whole week after their cup game.

“But we can manage the time between the game, we have experience of doing that. We have to prepare the guys.

“It is difficult when you get only two days between the games because you have to find the balance of how you train with the guys.

“You have to find the right mix between tactical and recovery work. It is good we played at home on Wednesday then Nottingham is not too far. The guys can sleep in their own beds, give everything to this game then we have one free week until the next game.”

Barnsley will be looking for a first clean sheet in 14 league games since beating Forest on November 21.

Ismael said: “It will be a new game and a new situation. Cardiff beat us 3-0 then we draw with them.

“Each game is a new game.”

Forest sacked Sabri Lamouchi after losing their first five games of the season, replacing him with Chris Hughton who lost just one of his first seven.

But, starting with the loss at Oakwell in November, they collected just a point from their next seven games.

They then went on a seven-match unbeaten run, the last three of which were wins, but they lost 2-1 at home to Middlesbrough in their last league game on Wednesday of last week – ending a five-game unbeaten home run.

Forest and Barnsley have played each other 86 times, with the Reds winning 33 and the Tricky Trees 31.

Forest have lost their last three games against Barnsley, all at Oakwell in 2020.

They were beaten 1-0 there in July, with Patrick Schmidt’s 94th-minute winner keeping Barnsley’s chances of survival alive while Forest slipped out of the top six having been five points clear in it with two games left. Cauley Woodrow then got the only goal of an EFL Cup match on the first day of this season in September and also secured a 2-0 league win in November after Callum Styles opened the scoring in the 85th minute.

Barnsley have lost their last two games at the City Ground since winning 1-0 there in January 2017 thanks to Conor Hourihane’s superb long-range strike.

That was one of two wins in 18 trips since 1948 with the other in 2006 thanks to Marc Richards brace in a 2-0 League One success.

After this match, the Reds have a free week before hosting Derby County on Saturday, February 6.