Barnsley ask to speak to Oldham boss Johnson over managerial vacancy

Reds target  Lee Johnson is one of the youngest managers in the Football League
Reds target Lee Johnson is one of the youngest managers in the Football League

The odds on Lee Johnson becoming the next manager of Barnsley have been dramatically slashed after it emerged that Oakwell chiefs had sought permission from Oldham Athletic to speak to the 33-year-old.

After being refused the go-ahead to speak to current Swindon Town boss Mark Cooper earlier in the week, it appears the Reds have now trained most of their focus on Johnson as a potential replacement for Danny Wilson, who was sacked last Thursday.

Johnson, whose father Gary was tentatively linked with the Oakwell hot seat at the weekend, would appear to fit Barnsley’s bill in that he is a talented young, qualified manager who has guided Oldham into the thick of the play-off scrap despite having a minimal player budget at his disposal.

He has made an impressive start to life in football management, having joined Oldham as a mere rookie on March 18, 2013. At the time that made him the youngest manager in the Football League at the age of 31.

Asked about the Barnsley speculation yesterday, Johnson was unsurprisingly coy.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned I’m happy in the job at Oldham and I get on really well with the players, the staff and everybody else.

“The board has always said that they want me to remain and I have two and a half years left on my contract so it won’t be my decision to leave.

“I thought the bookmakers had the wrong Johnson as it is my dad who is out of work at the moment.”

It seems the ball was still in the court of Oldham’s board last night. Johnson, a former midfielder during his playing days with Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Kilmarnock, added: “If the club receive interest then it’s up to them whether or not they accept.”

There has been no word from either Barnsley or Oldham on the Johnson situation, but The Star understands interviews could well be taking place today or tomorrow.

Ex-Doncaster boss Sean O¹Driscoll remains in the frame, as does Craig Hignett.

Joint-caretaker manager Mark Burton is due to speak at Barnsley’s regular pre-match press conference this afternoon.