Michael Duff says tomorrow’s visitors Ipswich Town are ‘the best team in League One history statistically’ but his Barnsley will aim to record a tenth straight home win.
The Reds are fourth in League One, six points behind second-placed Ipswich with two matches left after Tuesday's 7.45pm kick-off.
The Tractor Boys have won 11 of their last 12 games, conceding just two goals, the latest being a 3-0 success at Peterborough on Saturday.
The Suffolk club have lost the fewest games in League One with four and conceded the fewest goals with 33. They are the top-scorers in the top four divisions in England with 90, while they have the best passing statistics.
Duff told the Chronicle: “It will be the hardest game we’ve had but it should be a brilliant occasion for everyone.
“Ipswich are the best team in League One history, statistically.
“You talk about passing and possession stats and goals, but they have kept an unbelievable amount of clean sheets too.
“They have good players and a good manager. I imagine they will come here and do exactly the same as they have all season.”
Duff added: “It’s a great game. Everyone wants to be involved in games like this.
“Night games always seem to generate better atmospheres. Ipswich are bringing 5,000 fans.
“Ipswich have spent a lot of money but they are a big club. They have good players and a definite way of playing.
“Just buying loads of good players doesn’t mean you will win. They have solidity, goal threat and a bond between the players and staff. That’s why they have gone on this run.”
The Reds will move within three points of automatic promotion positions if they win.
Duff said: “We have to win but I said that four or five games ago. We’re not thinking about positions, we just want to win.”
The match was due to take place on March 25 but was called off due to Ipswich’s international call-ups. The Tractor Boys had two players in the Welsh squad then allegedly thought back-up left-back Greg Leigh had been selected by Jamaica before discovering he hadn’t.
Duff said: “I don’t think it will be any different at all, other than it will be dark. They were on a good run then and still are now, and so are we. We were disappointed the game was called off because we wanted to play.”
Former Barnsley attacker Conor Chaplin has 23 goals for Ipswich this season. Duff said: “He’s a good player. We have got to try to starve him of the ball so he starts wandering into areas we want him to go into. But they have a brilliant squad even if he isn’t playing.”
Nicky Cadden is back after a three-match ban, during which Ziyad Larkeche has been playing at left wing-back.
Duff said: “It’s probably the hardest thing we had have to pick. Ziyad has done well but Cads is back in contention and champing at the bit.”
Slobodan Tedic netted both goals in a 2-0 win over Oxford on Saturday, having started in place of former Ipswich striker James Norwood.
Duff said. “There’s a lot of competition and we have to make sure we pick the right team.
“Luke Thomas and Brad Collins didn’t get on the pitch on Saturday.
“There are players not getting in the squad who I would be comfortable starting.
“We have hard decisions to make with selection but they are good problems to have.
“Boban and Ziyad put their hands up and said ‘I am ready.’”
Midfielder Adam Phillips added: “It’s a tough test. We fancy ourselves and back ourselves at home with our fans. We’re looking forward to it.
“We want to keep the momentum going. If we end up in the play-offs, we want to take momentum with us.”
Ipswich have an excellent record against Barnsley, winning half of the 48 meetings and losing 13.
They have drawn seven and won five of the last 12 meetings since 2010 when Barnsley won 3-1 at Portman Road thanks to strikes by Govran Lovre, Garry O’Connor and an own goal.
The Suffolk club’s last six games at Oakwell since 2009 have brought four draws and two wins including a 2-1 victory on their last visit in August 2017.