We’re in good place, insists Reds boss Lee

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson

Barnsley boss Lee Johnson is confident his side are in a “very strong place” ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Shrewsbury Town.

Johnson worked hard to sign three new players before the transfer deadline shut on Tuesday night.

Striker Michael Smith joined from Swindon Town on an initial four-month loan deal, while Birmingham City goalkeeper Nick Townsend signed a permament three-year contract after an initial loan spell with the club.

Prospect Harry White, a 20-year-old striker, also agreed a two-year deal to join from Gloucester City.

And not finished with recruitment, Johnson signed signed trialist Simeon Jackson yesterday on a short-term deal to bolster his growing squad even further ahead of the visit of the Shrews to Oakwell.

“I think we’re looking very strong, I’ve got no complaints,” said Johnson, who now admits he’s got a job selecting a side with so many players at his disposal.

“It’s difficult to select a side, but it’s a great problem to have.

“Previously it’s been quite easy to pick a team, but now I’m going to have to manage my players very well.

“I’m going to have to be big and bold to go against the grain sometimes.

“You see when we play with energy we’re very good, but when we don’t we’re very bad. It’s a fine line.

“I need to pick teams which that play with that energy, because that’s really important towards our style.”

To make selection even more interesting Ryan Williams, the former Fulham winger, is back from a groin injury and fit enough to be in contention for the weekend.

Free agent Jackson has been training with the Reds for over a month and his contract could turn into a longer deal dependant on how successful the 28-year-old forward can be in South Yorkshire.

“Obviously he [Simeon] has trained with us since the start of the year and has been excellent,” revealed Johnson.

“It’s a short-term deal inititally, but obviously if he does well then we can move it on quickly.

“He is a really good lad to have around the place and a good finisher. And I think he is somebody who has the experience of getting promotions and scoring goals at this level.

“The opportunity came where we made him an offer just before the window.

“He leaves us with four or five striking options now, which is what I’ve wanted.

“I’m a big believer in changing your strikers to give you impetus, so it makes life difficult to pick players.

“It’s good to have all the clubs in the bag so you have options.”

Jackson started his career with Rushden and Diamonds, but has also played for Gillingham, Norwich City, Millwall and German Bundesliga outfit Braunschweig.

Bolton Wanderers loan striker Conor Wilkinson is the only player missing for tomorrow, absent on international duty for the Republic of Ireland Under-21 side.

Tomorrow’s game also marks the return of former caretaker manager Micky Mellon, with now fewer than four former Barnsley player now playing their trade with the Shrews.

Former Academy players Sam Patterson, Jordan Clark and Darren McKnight all play at New Meadow as does former loan player Liam Lawrence.

The Shrews last won at Oakwell 44 years ago and have yet to win in the league this season.