Barnsley are ready for ‘another big game’ when they host Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough tomorrow from 3pm.
Boro are tenth in the table, 11 points behind the fifth-placed Reds and nine away from the top six.
Their chances of finishing in the top six took a major blow over Easter as they faced two of the other clubs in promotion contention and lost 3-1 at Bournemouth on Friday then drew 1-1 at home to Watford on Monday.
They have lost their last three away matches but Barnsley have not won in three home games, drawing with Derby County and Reading either side of a derby loss to Sheffield Wednesday.
A victory could move Barnsley up to third in the Championship table if other results go their way.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “It is another big game against another big club in the Championship with a big manager with a lot of experience.
“It will be tough and we need another forceful performance.
“We know the quality of Middlesbrough.
“In the window they signed players like Yannick Bolasie.
“Normally they have to be in the top six and they have the quality to beat anyone but maybe the consistency was not there this season.
“They can play every way of football so it will be a bit of everything and we have to be prepared for all the situations we have to face.
“With the win in Luton (a 2-1 success on Monday), we have a lot of confidence and it was a good reaction after Sheffield Wednesday and Reading.”
Midfielder Herbie Kane is expected to be out for at least one more week with a knee injury, while defenders Ben Williams and Liam Kitching are also out.
Ismael said: “I hope that next week Herbie can come back to train with the team. With have three players injured but the rest of the squad is available.”
Boro boss Warnock spent two years at Oakwell as a winger in the late 1970s which he says were his best years as a player.
He has managed against them more than 20 times since the early 1990s.
His Notts County side lost twice to the Reds in the 1991/92 campaign but, since then, he has endured just three defeats to the Reds when in charge of Bury, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, QPR, Leeds, Cardiff and now Middlesbrough.
Striker Ashley Fletcher, who helped Barnsley win promotion from League One in 2016 when on loan from Manchester United, has missed much of Boro’s season through injury but is now back in the squad.
Sam Morsy, who also spent time on loan at Barnsley in the 2015/16 season, moved to Boro from Wigan for this season and had played the majority of their games in central midfield, but suffered a season-ending injury on Monday.
The clubs have met 63 times, with Boro winning 33 and the Reds 18.
Barnsley have won just one of the last six league meetings, a 1-0 success at home last season in February thanks to Conor Chaplin’s goal.
That was the last goal Barnsley scored in front of an Oakwell crowd before the coronavirus crisis.
Since then, Barnsley have visited the Riverside Stadium twice.
They won 2-0 in the EFL Cup in September thanks to goals by Jordan Williams and Patrick Schmidt then, two weeks later, lost 2-1 in the league with Cauley Woodrow scoring a late consolation penalty in Gerhard Struber’s final match before he moved to New York Red Bulls. Boro have not won any of their last four league games at Oakwell, losing three.