BARNSLEY under 18s are due to host Birmingham City in a top-of-the-table clash tomorrow from 11.30am on the Oakwell academy pitches.

The Reds, the reigning PDL champions, are second – 16 points behind Birmingham who have played five more games.

Barnsley’s game at Wigan Athletic on Saturday was called off.

Coach Nicky Eaden said: “Birmingham will be a difficult game. We won 4-2 there earlier in the season.

“They are strong with a bit of pace.

“We can still win the title.

“Last season it was the other way round. We were 15 clear and it was Sheffield United trying to chase us.”

Barnsley are only halfway through their 30-game league schedule.

They are also due to host Cardiff City on Tuesday from 11am.

Eaden said: “It will be difficult because the lads are not used to that amount of games.

“They will have to really dig in.

“It will be busy. This coming week we play Saturday, Tuesday then Friday.

“We have quite a few other midweek games as well.

“We don’t finish until May, after the first team’s league season finishes, then we might have play-offs as well if we are in the top two.

“But the lads will have to get used to playing so much if they want to be professionals.

“We talk a lot about overloading players when they are so young but I think it’s good for them to get used to playing Saturday, Tuesday.”

Eaden, the legendary former player, returned to his hometown club last season and coached the under 18s to their first ever league title.

“This season we are not physically as strong. That was an athletic team.

“Arguably we are playing a bit better football this season.

“It’s just about learning how to win as they get older and closer to professional games.

“That’s what we managed last season.”

Eaden is enjoying working under first team head coach Neill Collins whose side are in the top two hunt in League One after beating Derby County on Saturday.

“When the first team is doing well it helps everyone.

“When they are not it has the opposite effect.

“Everyone at the club enjoyed Saturday’s game with the big crowd.

“The gaffer has been really good.

“You get some who pay the academy lip service but aren’t interested which is understandable because their job is to get results and it’s on the line if they don’t. He has had a lot of lads up training with the first team.

“We have had a few debuts as well and players on the bench in league games.”

Barnsley under 21s host Wigan today from 1pm.

They drew 2-2 at Peterborough United on Tuesday.

Goalkeeper Rogan Ravenhill saved an early penalty.

Then highly-rated midfielders Jonathan Bland and Vimal Yoganathan put the Reds 2-0 ahead at half-time.

But the hosts scored in both the 75th and 78th minutes, with the first from another penalty.