BARNSLEY will play ‘as strong a side as we can’ at home to League Two Crewe Alexandra today as they try to reach the third round of the FA Cup.

The Reds triumphed 2-1 at League One rivals Bolton Wanderers in the first round earlier this month, playing a full strength team except back-up goalkeeper Jack Walton.

Premier League clubs enter the competition in the third round which is due to be played in January.

Duff told the Chronicle: “We will be as strong as we can. I don’t think we have a lot of wiggle room.

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“A lot of the players played 90 minutes on Wednesday (in the EFL Trophy loss at Port Vale).

“We’re at home against lower league opponents.

“There are absolutely no guarantees.

“If we don’t have the right mentally, we will get beaten.

“If we do, hopefully we have enough to get into the next around.

“We don’t look too far into the future because it trips you up.

“There’s no point thinking ‘I wonder what the third round draw will be’ if you’re out.”

Barnsley’s home form had been up and down but they beat League One relegation-battlers Forest Green Rovers and MK Dons in their last two matches at Oakwell.

“It will be a similar challenge to our.last few home games

“We haven’t played any of the big boys at home.

“I am not being disrespectful to the teams we have played because we’ve been beaten by Lincoln and Exeter.

“But they have come to shut up shop and frustrate. We’ve found that difficult.

“But, in the last couple of games, we have taken the game to teams.

“I imagine the game will pan out like that so it’s whether we can get on top or we get done on the counter-attack like we have been in the past.”

Crewe – who finished bottom of League One last season – are currently 15th in League Two, 12 points clear of the relegation zone and six off the play-off places.

Their manager Alex Morris stepped down for personal reasons earlier this month and is now assistant to interim boss Lee Bell while the club consider a permanent appointment.

Bell has so far won all three games in charge 1-0.

His first was against League Two leaders Leyton Orient at home in the first round of the FA Cup.

They then won at home to Colchester United, ending a seven-game winless run in the league, and also at Swindon Town on Saturday.

That was their first away win in all competitions in ten games since the opening day of the season at Rochdale.

Duff said: “They have picked up.

“The two managers have swapped their roles.

“I have watched quite a bit of them.

“They play 4-2-3-1.

“Daniel Agyei has been scoring quite a lot of goals. I know him from Burnley, he’s big strong and powerful.

“Conor Thomas, in the middle of the pitch, I had at Cheltenham and he’s another good footballer.

“They will come to us and see it as a free hit.

“The expectancy will be on us which is a different type of pressure.

“They will make it hard, they have quality in their team.

“But the onus is on us to get through to the third round.”

This will be the 58th meeting of the two clubs, with Barnsley winning 27 and losing 14.

The Reds beat Crewe at Oakwell in the FA Cup in 1906, 4-0 in a replay, and 6-1 in 1927, then won 3-1 away in January 2020 under Gerhard Struber thanks to goals by Jacob Brown, Conor Chaplin and Luke Thomas.

Crewe won five successive meetings between 2001 and 2014 but the Reds have won four of the last five, the odd one out being a 2-1 home loss in October 2015.

That is one of four wins in eight trips to Oakwell for Crewe in the 21st century having won just once in 20 games there in the 20th century.

If the game is drawn, the replay will scheduled for the week commencing December 5.