Barnsley: Reds will continue to defy expectation, says manager Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson

Ambitious boss Lee Johnson is delighted his on-song Barnsley side are shattering illusions in League One.

From relegation-threatened little over a month ago, the resurgent Reds are flying high in sixth position in the table having gone on a fine seven-game unbeaten run.

And victory at home to second-placed Preston North End tomorrow afternoon could see Johnson’s confident charges move ever closer to a sought-after play-off berth.

“Four or five weeks ago I wouldn’t have thought too many people would have been getting exciting about this time of year,” said Johnson.

“The games we’ve got coming up could have been relegation-battle matches, but they’re not because we’re sixth in the table and we’re up there on merit.

“We’re in form, playing well and everyone is behind us. That’s the sort of atmosphere you want to play in as a player.

“I get the buzz as if I was still playing as well. We’ve got some great games to look forward too, especially the next three games where we play two of the top sides in the division.

“Every win you get is massive at this stage of the season. If anyone slips up then it gives you a real advantage. There’s so much to play for.”

Defender Jean-Yves M’voto has recovered from sickness and is available for the weekend, while fellow centre-back Peter Ramage has recovered from a hamstring injury and, although Johnson doesn’t think the player is fit to start, he revealed he could be used as a substitute.

“We want as many players back and as fit as possible, but the problem we’ve got it as that we’ve got six loan players,” admitted Johnson.

“One of those players will always have to miss out [in the match-day] squad and, if we sign somebody else on loan, then two might have to miss out. So we have to be careful of that.

“But when we have a lot of bodies training it means we have good competition for places. And that means nobody is guaranteed a place.”

Johnson had tried to extend John O’Sullivan’s loan deal from Blackburn Rovers, but the player’s parent club have recalled him after his last appearance for the Reds this weekend.

“We’re disappointed not to have extended his loan deal because he’s done well for us, so we may have to do a little bit of work to replace him in the market.

“In an ideal world we need somebody to replace John, but it’s an opportunity to tinker and bring somebody new in.

“We’re on the case, got a decent list of players who we can get and looking at who is willing to come here. Somebody with some speed and a bit of quality.”