Johnson hoping for a good reception on Latics return

Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

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Barnsley boss Lee Johnson would be “disappointed” if there was any animosity on his return to former club Oldham Athletic tomorrow.

Johnson left the Latics last month to further his career with the Reds at Oakwell.

But the 33-year-old is realistic to expect some criticism when he returns to his old stomping ground of Boundary Park.

“I’m sure there will be some,” admitted Johnson.

“But I’d be disappointed if there is because I gave everything for the club. I could have done without going back there so soon to be honest because leaving the club is still raw.

“But I can look myself in the mirror and be happy because I was proud of what we did at Oldham.

“Certain things have been documented since I left which have disappointed me, some true and some not true.

“But generally, the feeling between myself, the owners and the players at Oldham was very good. We’ll remain friends forever.

“I’ve spoken to every one of the players since I’ve left and they’ve wished me the best. I think, when you leave on good terms - and Oldham got a decent fee for me - you’d hope people understand.

“I left them in a better place, but his is football and you’re there to be shot at.

“Hopefully I’ll get a decent enough reception, but I don’t expect the red-carpet treatment.

“I do like be loved, that’s my personality. And I did give everything to the club.

“But in football you have to plan for the future knowing that you could be sacked tomorrow.”

The Reds are sitting pretty in seventh position in League One, having gone on a their best winning run for nearly 35 years.

Five successive victories - three under Johnson’s leadership - have revitalized the South Yorkshire outfit from relegation-candidates to realistic play-off contenders, with just 11 games remaining.

And victory over the Latics would be another big step in the right direction with the Reds only one point from breaking into the sought-after top six this season.

“The players would be lying if they said they didn’t have one eye on the table after every match, but the most important thing is they’re tuned in on the pitch,” stressed Johnson.

Manchester United loan midfielder Ben Pearson is ready for the weekend having recovered from sickness, while centre-half Peter Ramage has recovered from a thigh injury - but could struggle to force his way into the side with Lewin Nyatanga and skipper Martin Cranie having helped the Reds keep an impressive five clean sheets in a row.

But midfielder Paul Digby is definitely missing with an ankle injury, while goalkeeper Ross Turnbull has had surgery for his back injury and will miss the remainder of the season.