NEILL Collins expects today's visitors Charlton Athletic to be one of Barnsley’s promotion rivals this season and the Reds will be wary of the goal-scoring prowess of Alfie May.

The Addicks are tenth in League One, three places and seven points behind the Reds. They drew 2-2 at home to Cambridge United on Saturday, going 2-0 up but conceding in the 87th and 96th minutes.

They are unbeaten in five and have lost just two of 13 league games under Michael Appleton who took over in September – with five wins and six draws – after Dean Holden was sacked following four straight losses in August.

Collins told the Chronicle: “They are a big club.

“They were perennially in the Championship, they have been in League One for a while now but they have the talent that suggests they will be one of our competitors.

“It’s a really important one.”

He added: “They had a slightly slow start but their position in the league doesn’t do their talent justice.”

Charlton boast the top-scorer in the division Alfie May who has 15 goals in the league and 19 in all competitions.

Collins told the Chronicle: “When you have a player who has scored that many goals, you know it will be a challenge. Other teams will think like that about Devante (Cole, Barnsley’s top-scorer) when they play us.

“We have to give Alfie May respect and our defenders will have to be very aware of him.

“But the point at home is to make sure Charlton are doing most of the defending.”

Barnsley have the 16th best home record in the division but did win their last game at Oakwell thanks to Sam Cosgrove’s bizarre injury-time winner over Wycombe.

Charlton have a poor away record this season, the 20th best in the division – having won just once on the road in eight attempts.

But they are unbeaten in three league games on their travels with a win at Wigan Athletic followed by draws at leaders Portsmouth and lowly Carlisle United.

Charlton have two of Barnsley’s starters from May’s play-off final.

But goalkeeper Harry Isted – who turned down a permanent deal with Barnsley after a fine loan – has been out since September with a knee injury while Manchester City loan striker Slobodan Tedic has scored just one in 14 games in all competitions and was not in the squad on Saturday.

Manager Appleton has faced Barnsley twice and lost twice – at Wembley with Oxford United in the 2016 EFL Trophy final after being beaten as manager of Portsmouth at Oakwell in February 2012.

This will be the 55th meeting of the two clubs, with Barnsley winning 18 and losing 21.

They have each won three of the last eight meetings since 2012.

Charlton’s only win in their last nine visits to Oakwell since 1995 was a 6-0 thrashing in 2013 – with four draws and four losses.

Last season, Barnsley won 3-1 at home in September but then lost 2-0 in London in January.