Unbeaten in all their pre-season games, Barnsley go to Nottingham Forest in great heart on Saturday and must surely fancy their chances of getting something out of what is a massive opening fixture.
Wily manager Keith Hill will be aware that the pre-season swallows don’t always make for the perfect summer and be guarding against complacency from the side he selects to face the promotion favourites.
But he will have been delighted with how his side has shaped up so far. New signings Craig Davies – he scored a brace of goals in Saturday’s 5-0 win at Scunthorpe – and full back Scott Wiseman have proved their worth in the friendlies and, along with Hill’s other summer signings, look set to play key roles in the season ahead.
After the Forest opener, Reds then have three home matches in succession. First up at Oakwell is the Carling Cup encounter with League Two outfit Morecambe, followed by the visits of newly-promoted Southampton and then Middlesboro.
As ever, Hill is upbeat about the challenge that lies ahead for his side.
Hill said: “Some of the football in the first half at Glanford Park was exceptional, but it is only pre-season.
“People keep reminding me of that, but we can only do what we can do. The belief is there and the trust in one another.
“I trust the players and they trust in me.
“Again people keep saying it is only pre-season, well let’s not have a pre-season.
“We play the games because we are preparing ourselves for the season, so you have got to judge us on what we have done so far.
“The real season starts at Nottingham Forest and we are excited about it.
“The balance is good, but there has to be a bravery from the players and there has got to be a patience from the supporters and from myself and those connected with the football club for the type of style I am searching for and expect the lads to play in.
“I’m after this possession football with an end product and we are getting that.
“It’s working well at the moment, but the real test won’t be Nottingham Forest, it will be the next 46 games.”