Tranmere Rovers will look for their first ever win at Oakwell in their 28th attempt when they visit in the EFL Cup from 7.45pm tomorrow – against what could be a very young Barnsley team.
Youngsters Harrison Nejman and Nathan James are expected to be added to the squad from Saturday’s 7-0 win over Port Vale, but none of the ill or injured players are expected to return with Adam Phillips still suspended. Corey O’Keeffe came off in the first half on Saturday with a thigh strain which is being assessed.
Head coach Neill Collins said: “We view it as a game we want to win and a competition we want to go as far as possible in. But we have to consider we have three really tough league games coming up and a lighter squad at the moment. I have to consider all these things but the team that we play should be capable of competing and winning. I am still trying to look at the squad in this environment.
“If they were robots, I would just play the same team to continue to build the connections and get them to gel. But they are not.
“It’s good to give other players opportunities they need as well. It’s good to use the squad.
“The young players have acquitted themselves in friendlies especially at Hull. I believe in given young players an opportunity.”
French centre-back Mael de Gevigney joined the club on Friday but his international clearance was yet to be approved as of Monday lunchtime.
Collins said: “It could be any time. Hopefully it’s in the near future. It’s very early days. He hasn’t trained much. But from what we’ve seen it looks as if he will be good addition.”
Rovers have drawn 11 and lost 16 times at Oakwell since first playing there in 1932. They have not beaten the Reds home or away in the last five meetings since a 2-0 success at Prenton Park in League One in 2004.
The only meeting since 2006 was under Valerien Ismael in January 2021 in the FA Cup when Michal Helik and Cauley Woodrow secured a 2-0 win. The only previous League Cup meeting saw Tranmere thrash Dave Bassett’s Barnsley 4-0 in 1999 when Rovers were on their way to the final.
Tranmere’s manager is former coach Ian Dawes who was given his first manager’s job earlier this year, taking over from former Reds caretaker and assistant Micky Mellon who was sacked in March. Their technical director is Nigel Adkins who was Collins’ manager at Sheffield United.
Their captain is striker Kane Hemmings who spent the 2014/15 season with Barnsley – scoring five goals in 28 games.
Barnsley have been knocked out of the EFL Cup first round in eight of the last 15 seasons, but won at Middlesbrough last year before losing at Leeds.
Collins said: “They look to play football, build out from the back and are very organised in attack. They have a lot of experienced players. It will be a really tough game. Them being in League Two and us in League One, as the season goes on that gap shows but, at this stage, there is not a lot in it. We will need to play really well to be in the next round. We want to keep building momentum.”
On building on Saturday’s win, Collins said: “A couple of people have said we have set bar too high. We know football can bring you down to Earth very quickly but those days are hard to come by. It gives us a lot to build on, gives us confidence and three points which is the most important thing.”