Ahead of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final second leg with Fleetwood Town, Barnsley Head Coach Lee Johnson spoke of his desire to keep the Reds’ impressive run going.
Since beating Blackpool in the final game of 2015, Johnson’s side have gone seven games unbeaten, winning six and drawing with Fleetwood in the area final first leg.
Despite the carrot of a trip to Wembley hanging before the squad, Johnson asserted that it is important to keep the players grounded ahead of the trip to the Fylde coast.
He said: “We have to recognise the magnitude of the situation we’re in and I think the players do. I have to keep people calm, switched on and focused.
“We’ll go in with a plan and the players live in the moment and it’s about not letting them start dreaming because that’s how they become unstuck.
“Nobody wants to go to Wembley and lose, I’ve been there and lost and trust me, it hurts. It almost becomes a one-off game because we’re one knockout from competing for silverware.
“I think we froze a little in the first game but it’s about getting ready now for the next game and it’s a case of doing a lot of what we have been doing recently and getting ready for a massive game.”
The Head Coach admitted the Reds may be without Adam Hammill and Aidan White for the trip through injury but stressed he wanted to have the strongest squad he could possibly take.
He said: “We want to have the best available 16 for what is a huge game for us, everyone is buzzing and we want to go to Fleetwood and continue our good form.
“If we do that we’ll create chances and if we stick the ball in the back of the net and stay solid, we’ve got a good chance.
“They might be slight favourites being at home but our fans will go there and make it a home game for us and that’s all we ask.
“Adam Hammill and Aidy White are coming on quite well,” added Johnson. “We’ll have a look today and see if we can push them but it’s probably too early.
“We have a huge game Thursday and then Bury on Sunday and nothing will take my focus away from that and from where we were earlier this season, the players should take the credit for turning it around.”
The Reds made three signings on deadline day, bringing in the services of Shaun Tuton, Charlie Harris and Josh Kay but Johnson confirmed Kevin Long will be leaving the club when his loan expires on February 19.
Johnson reflected on the January window as a whole, adding: “Yesterday was a successful day. We’ve improved the underbelly, kept our best players but it was a successful day all round.
“We’ve brought in a lad from Halifax to put into the first team. Our recruitment team had seen he was in-form and he’s exciting because he’s fairly new to football.
“The full time training will help him and we see a guy who works his socks off and he’s young enough to keep learning.
“We’d have liked to have kept Kevin Long for the season but Sean Dyche said that was always the plan to get him back to games.”
Top scorer Sam Winnall is a player that Johnson was delighted will still be available for selection for the remainder of the season.
“It was well documented,” he added. “But we always wanted to keep Sam and he has been an ultimate professional and for him to score on Saturday shows what kind of guy he is.
“He loves the club but like all footballers, he wants to play at the highest level and I’ll say to him; fire us into the championship with 25 goals and to a Wembley final if he scores on Thursday.”