MARTIN Devaney will ‘pick players who are proud to wear the shirt’ when Barnsley host mid-table Preston North End from 12.30pm on Saturday in their final home game of the season.
The former Reds winger said some of his players ‘downed tools’ in his first game as caretaker, a 2-0 home loss to Blackpool on Tuesday. He said: “Because of my history I want to do so well but it didn’t happen. I didn’t sleep after the game. The desire and commitment wasn’t there in terms of what I expect from a Barnsley team. There have been a few home truths. I want the players to work hard, they are employed by the club to do that. When you cross the white line you have to put a shift in, and I didn’t see that which is disappointing.
“Maybe a few can’t handle it and have downed tools. I have to pick players who are proud to wear that shirt.
“The ideal situation is we perform well and get some sort of result to have a nice ending. But the players have to put the work in first.”
The Reds – who were relegated on Friday – are winless in seven and have lost their last three. With two games left, they are last in the Championship, one point behind second-bottom Derby County and four off third-bottom Peterborough, with all three relegated.
The last time Barnsley finished last in any division was in 1965 when they were relegated from Division Three.
No club has ever gone from the second tier play-offs to finishing bottom the next season, and the only clubs relegated to the third tier a season after reaching the play-offs for the top flight were Wigan in 2015, Leeds in 2007, Cambridge in 1993 and Brighton in 1992. The only clubs since 2005 to collect fewer points in a Championship season than Barnsley’s current total of 30 were Rotherham in 2016/17 and Blackpool two years earlier.
Devaney said: “I suppose it can be a bit of motivation to not finish last.
“We are bottom at the moment and I will try to win as many as I can and finish as high as we can.”
The Reds are on course to record their lowest tallies for points and wins since 1952/53, with six and 30 currently, while their goals tally of 32 is level with the club record set in 1971/72. Barnsley could set a club record low tally of home goals in a season, which is currently 22. They have netted 17 goals in 22 home games this season, so would need five against Preston to avoid a new record.
Aapo Halme, Josh Benson, Devante Cole and Aaron Leya Iseka have all been out injured recently, while Brad Collins, Michal Helik and Jordan Williams are out for the season. Some could return depending on fitness tests on Friday.
Preston are 16th with 58 points, but could finish anywhere between tenth and 17th. They lost 4-1 at home to near neighbours Blackburn Rovers on Monday following a 3-0 loss to promoted Fulham. They have lost their last three away games and not scored in four.
Only Derby and Barnsley have scored fewer than the Lilywhites’ 16 away goals this season. Devaney said: “They are a team that are mid-table and not really playing for anything. But we know their manager will be looking for a reaction from a heavy defeat in their local derby.”
Preston have centre-back Bambo Diaby – who failed a drugs test while a Barnsley player in 2019 and was released the following year. He served a two-year ban then joined North End in January until the end of the season.
Diaby – who has started three games and come off the bench in two others – is one of three ex-Reds at Deepdale.
Brad Potts has played 33 league games this season, scoring once, while Liam Lindsay has played 15 times, being sent off twice in his last four appearances.
Potts started on Monday with Lindsay on the bench.
Barnsley have won just one of their last eight meetings with Preston, losing four of the last five. They won this fixture last season 2-1 in December thanks to a late Victor Adeboyejo winner.
They were beaten 2-1 at Deepdale in December, with Cauley Woodrow’s leveller being cancelled out late on.
That was the first game in charge for manager Ryan Lowe, who has won eight of his 24 games, losing seven.