Preview: Sheffield Wednesday vs. Barnsley

Stuart Gray manager of Sheffield Wednesday looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United at Hillsborough Stadium on January 11, 2014
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews Saturday's crucial relegation battle in the Championship as Sheffield Wednesday host Barnsley in a Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough.

Hillsborough will play host to a vital Yorkshire derby this Saturday as Sheffield Wednesday welcome Barnsley in a Championship basement battle.

Wednesday have enjoyed a new lease of life under Stuart Gray, whose first match as permanent manager finished as a 1-1 draw with Millwall on Tuesday.

That made it nine games without defeat for the Owls, and another Yorkshire derby will bring back positive memories of their 6-0 victory over Leeds United, which came right in the middle of their current run.

Despite their decent form, however, they still sit just two places and three points above the relegation zone, making Saturday's derby against fellow strugglers Barnsley one of the most important in years.

A win could see them climb as high as 17th in the table, while their goal difference should keep them safe from falling into the bottom three should results go against them.

The Owls have won their last three matches in all competitions at Hillsborough, scoring 12 goals in that time and conceding just one.

However, they will be without Rafael Floro and Anthony Gardner due to injury, while Giles Coke begins a three-match suspension following his red card on Tuesday.

Barnsley have also experienced an upturn in form in recent weeks and come into Saturday's game unbeaten in the league this year.

However, they remain just one place off the bottom and five points from safety as the teams around them have also improved their results recently.

The visitors' away form is a large factor in their struggles this season, and no side in the Championship has amassed fewer points on their travels than Barnsley.

They have won just one away game all season, and that run stretches to one in 19 when you go back to the previous campaign too.

However, Danny Wilson has been busy in the January transfer window, and hopes are high around the club that the influx of new players could spur an improvement in form over the latter stages of the season.

David Fox is Barnsley's only injury doubt, and Wilson could start with Nick Proschwitz and Chris O'Grady up front together.

Recent form

Sheff Weds: DWWDWD

Barnsley: LLDLWD

Possible starting lineups

Sheff Weds: Kirkland; Palmer, Loovens, Llera, Helan; Maguire, Semedo, Maghoma, Lee; Lavery, Nuhiu

Barnsley: Steele; Cranie, Mvoto, Ramage, Kennedy; Shea, Dawson, O'Brien, Jennings; Proschwitz, O'Grady

Sports Mole says: 2-1

Leeds United manager Brian McDermott barks orders from the touchline on September 18, 2013
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