Barnsley: Boss Lee Johnson closing in on Bristol City switch

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson

Barnsley boss Lee Johnson is expected to leave the club after holding talks with Bristol City about the vacant manager’s position at Ashton Gate.

The Reds gave the Championship strugglers permission to talk to Johnson after an official approach yesterday, and The Star understands these negotiations are now at an advanced stage.

Assistant manager Tommy Wright and coach Paul Heckingbottom will take training today and handle preparations for Sunday’s visit of Bury.

Johnson, 34, played for the Robins between 2006 and 2012, amassing almost 200 appearances for the club.

He was named League One manager of the month yesterday after guiding the Reds to five league wins from five, but City have identified him as a potential saviour in their Championship survival campaign.

The Robins have picked up just one win in their last nine games and have been managerless since the departure of Steve Cotterill on January 14.

“We gave this permission because we believe that the structures that we now have in place must be the key to our future success rather than dependence on a single individual,” a statement from Barnsley read. “If Lee decides to stay with Barnsley Football Club we will be delighted, but if he chooses to move on, we will continue unabated with the plan we have in place.”

After a difficult first half of the season the Reds stuck with Johnson and were justified as the team climbed the table, remaining unbeaten in 2016.

He also masterminded a trip to Wembley, with Thursday night’s penalty shoot-out win over Fleetwood setting up a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final showdown with Oxford United on April 3.

But it now looks unlikely that he will lead Barnsley out under the famous arch, with the lure of plying his trade in the second tier of English football at a club where he spent a large chunk of his career seemingly too strong to turn down.

Meanwhile, winger Adam Hammill is in dreamland after netting the winning penalty to take the Reds to the home of football for the first time since that famous FA Cup run in the 2007/08 season, where they beat big names such as Chelsea and Liverpool before losing to Cardiff in the semi-final.

The 28-year-old could not contain his delight at how well his second spell at the club is turning out.

“It’s a fairytale scenario for me coming back to Barnsley and getting the winning goal to take us to Wembley,” he beamed.

“We’re all elated as a whole group of players and we’re absolutely delighted that we’re going to Wembley.”

Barnsley are back in action tomorrow as they host Bury at Oakwell on the back of six straight league victories.

And Hammill reckons there is no reason why that run can’t continue tomorrow against former boss David Flitcroft’s side.

“Since the new year we’ve come out a different team, we’re unbeaten and we just need to stick to this run,” he stressed. “We’re pushing up the table looking to the play-offs. We’re not too far off and you wouldn’t have thought that in October.”