Any Barnsley fans expecting an easy return to the Championship will be disappointed, says the man whose side will come up against the Reds twice in the opening week of the campaign.
Steve Davis – who made 119 appearances for Barnsley from 1991 to 1998 – now manages Crewe Alexandra who will visit Oakwell in the first round of the Capital One Cup on August 12 before being the Reds' first hosts of the season in Cheshire four days later.
"Some Barnsley fans will be thinking that they can bounce straight back into the Championship," Davis told the Chronicle.
"I hope they do because it's a club I have a lot of time and respect for. But it will be very, very difficult. Clubs that have come down have found it tough. Wolves obviously didn't because they went straight back up but Bristol City and Peterborough have stayed down and Sheffield United have been in League One a while now. "They are all clubs with big budgets and fanbases. "Barnsley can overcome all of that but it won't be easy."
Davis, now 48, played for the Reds for seven seasons and was one of the team promoted to the Premiership under Danny Wilson, who has since returned to the Oakwell management job. He is excited to be coming up against his former boss and club.
"I was looking forward to playing Barnsley but I wasn't expecting to play them twice in the first week. I spoke to Danny at an LMA (League Manager's Association) dinner in May, just after the end of last season. He was telling me of his plans to get Barnsley back to where he thinks they belong. We were looking forward to coming up against each other.
"At Crewe, we look at every game the same, whether it's in the league or cup. We will be looking to go as far as we can in the cup and the league game will be massive for us as it is our first home game of the season."
Popular centre-back Davis broke his leg in the January of Barnsley's promotion season and did not play for them in the top flight, eventually leaving for Oxford in February 1998. He said: "I loved every second of my time at Barnsley. It's a fantastic club. I think I played my best football in the promotion season but the injury stopped me playing a part in the Premiership which was disappointing. But getting to the top flight with Barnsley ranks amongst my best achievements as a player or a manager. We were just a group of honest, hard-working players who gelled really well under a great manager in Danny."