Joey Barton fires warning to Sheffield Wednesday as he pinpoints their struggles
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The Gas take on one of League One’s big hitters, who have suffered a slump in form, and are without several key players for their meeting with them. Windass, who once played with Barton at Rangers, has been missing for the last seven matches which has coincided with their loss in form.
Darren Moore's side went unbeaten from October to late-March, but having been injured against Bolton Wanderers, Wednesday have won just once since being unable to call upon the former Wigan Athletic forward. They have the likes of Barry Bannan, who has 11 assists and six goals to his name this season, as well as Lee Gregory to call upon but
Speaking ahead of the match, Barton said: “With Josh Windass out, since he did his planta facia, I don’t think they’ve got anywhere near the points they were getting before that. He’s a huge part of their arsenal.
“They’ve obviously got a lot of talent as well but when you’ve got his running ability and he can create a bit more space for your Smiths, your Barry Bannan’s etcetera. They’ve lost to Burton and they’re starting to get into that ‘squeaky bum’ arena which can be a real hindrance for people that aren’t used to that habitually.
He added: “We’ve got to rest, recover and we’re coming here confident that we can cause any team problems. We want to finish as high as we can in the table and make sure we do the work in the off-season to make sure this time next year we’re the team with a promotion push. We’ve made a lot of strides in the right direction in recent weeks.”
The 40-year-old added that his side do not fear the men from South Yorkshire ahead of their visit to the Memorial Stadium. Sheff Wed will be backed by a sold-out away end with 1,200 supports descending down South for their trip to the West Country.
The promotion-chasing Owls are assured of a play-off spot but still have a chance of automatic promotion out of League One. Darren Moore’s side went on a long unbeaten run but have struggled for form recently, and lost 3-2 to Burton Albion on the weekend, which has them a point behind Ipswich Town who have a game in hand, and two behind Plymouth Argyle who also have that luxury.
“I’ll watch the Burton game and see what they have done to them but we’ll have our plan,” said Barton in his pre-match press conference.
“We don’t fear them, we’ve got an opportunity to beat another good side in our stadium and give another good account of ourselves in front of our passionate fan base.
“The only disappointing thing for me is that these are games we’ve got to win to get ourselves into the playoffs and I think we’re good enough in this moment. We’re starting to get that belief in the group and it’s important we bank it because we want to be challenging, we don’t want to be sat in the middle of the table again.
“As Derby found out, we’re a young and hungry group who are full of legs and full of running and we’re just getting stronger with no pressure. We’re a really dangerous opponent. Derby were here trying to keep pace with the playoff race and Sheff Wed are going to have to get something to keep pace with the automatic push.”