The Barnsley manager Simon Davey has seen his preparations for Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Cardiff dealt a heavy blow with the news that defender Stephen Foster, who has been a fundamental part of the Tykes' success, scoring the equaliser in the 2-1 fifth-round victory at Anfield, has bruised his right foot and will almost certainly miss the tie.
"He is one of our most consistent and unsung players," Davey said. "With a player of such significance you leave it until the 11th hour [to decide] but it's looking very doubtful." Striker Daniel Nardiello is 50:50 after pulling up with a hamstring injury in training on Monday.
Goalkeeper Luke Steele, whose heroics against Liverpool and Chelsea have played a major part in the club's progress, has spoken for the first time about the mental struggle he will face if West Bromwich Albion progress to the final.
Under the terms of the extended loan deal which will see Steele remain on loan from Albion for the rest of the season, the 23-year-old will not be eligible to play in the final if Barnsley face them next month. Steele said the timing of this weekend's semi-finals will potentially make his preparations difficult.
"It's difficult [because] obviously on Sunday I'm going to know the result of the West Brom/Portsmouth game," said Steele, whose rollercoaster ride of emotions in recent weeks has included the prospect of missing a semi-final when a dispute over who was paying his wages threatened to curtailhis stay at Oakwell. "Obviously it's crossed my mind how I'm going to react and mentally I've got to be strong. I'm still going to have to play the semi-final whether West Brom get through or not. It's going to be tough mentally."
Steele was signed by Manchester United from Peterborough in 2002 and was second-choice at West Bromwich last season, but it was after moving to Barnsley on a month's loan that he shot to prominence with his superb display at Anfield 48 hours after joining. As Barnsley progressed in the tournament, Albion decided that the heavy subsidy on his wages which they were providing should be revisited.
Though the semi-final will probably bring £50,000 less revenue to Barnsley than the last round against Chelsea, there is no doubt this game is the biggest in Barnsley's recent history.
"When you go to Wembley and play top teams you don't want the players to 'miss' the occasion," Davey said. "We've got to make sure that everything is right for them. This is another challenge on their road to becoming successful individuals."Reuse content