Barnsley Head Coach met the press ahead of this weekend’s home fixture against Walsall and starting off by answering a question on the fitness of John O’Sullivan.
“John O’Sullivan is OK. We’ve got to be careful because he has had a tight hamstring for a couple of weeks and we have played him about a half hour too long in the last couple of games, so we’ll rest him today and tomorrow. We’re hopeful, I would say 70/30 in favour that he will be available for the weekend.
“Everybody is as they were. It was good that Sam Winnall got his cameo on Tuesday. I would have liked to get him on early but I wanted to, but due to the height we had in the team I felt we needed to keep dominant on set pieces. That said it’s another couple of days he has got training and strengthening his hamstring and he is chomping at the bit and ready to go.
“As for Peter Ramage I think he is still a couple of weeks away. You’ve got to be careful as it is his thigh and a recurrence of the injury. He is certainly going to be an important player for us going into the final run in.
“We’re hopeful to extends Ben Pearson’s loan spell. He has been excellent for us. He is a really good player. The problem with that is there will probably be other suitors and maybe from a higher division. But he’s here, he’s enjoying himself, he’s done well and he is comfortable and in my opinion it’s the best option for him to stay here for his progression as a footballer.
“In an ideal you would add to the team going into the final games to bolster your squad and enhance the eleven if you can. But at the moment the lads are doing well so it’s a catch 22 – do you change a team that’s got fantastic spirit and high on confidence and possibly disrupt that or do bring in players in areas where you think needs to be improved. We are active, we are looking and having many conversations and gathering information so I wouldn’t rule it out.
Looking ahead to Walsall, Lee Johnson said, “They have got a very good manager in Dean Smith. They punch above their weight which is always the sign of a good manager. He has got them into the JPT Final and they are a good side with threats. If they were to beat us they would go above us on goal difference – it’s so tight in League One you can think you’re way ahead of somebody and one results turns that perception.
“We will have to be really on our game because if we are not they have real threats. Sawyer is a player I really like, Bradshaw has come back and looks sharp and Baxendale can be a threat. They’re reasonable strong at the back and they are a team that have been around for a long time and they know each others game inside out. It will be a tough game.
“Walsall are averaging 420 passes a game compared to Barnsley’s 250 so you need to appreciate at times they will have possession but of course that doesn’t mean they’re running the game with that possession. If we get into a good shape and break off that we can be effective with the qualities that we have. There are many different ways to win a football match and as a manager I have got to try and assess the best way and we will certain go out against Walsall and try to win.”