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Johnson on First Leg Versus Fleetwood

7 January 2016

Barnsley Head Coach Lee Johnson addressed the media ahead of this weekend’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Area Final first leg clash with Fleetwood Town.


With the game taking place over two-legs, the most important thing for Johnson will be ensuring the Reds remain in the tie going into the second leg, but knows the Cod Army pose many threats.


He said: “I’ve seen them quite a bit. Steven Pressley is a great friend of mine and I’ve watched him closely.


“It’s awkward because you have four good and young managers all trying to get to Wembley and everybody wants the players to play at Wembley, but it’s great for the managers, especially being so young.


“We’ll be going gung-ho to try and get to the final - both of us. The last game between us was not in the best taste of genuine football.


“I’d urge people to come down and watch, it’s affordable football, the boys are confident, not complacent, and they need that atmosphere again on Saturday to get us going.”


As a player, the Head Coach has experienced playing at Wembley but wants his side to go out there and win, as much as it being a day out.


He said: “There’s no point going to Wembley unless you’re going to win it, trust me I’ve been there. You have to make sure it’s not just a day out.


“The first step is to try and win the first leg and see where we are ahead of the second leg. Whatever happens in the first leg is sure to influence the second leg.


“It’s 180 minutes at least, it’s a tough and the boys will have to be at their best to get a result. Some of these boys will never get a better chance to play at Wembley and they need to have that on their mind.


“It feels a big game, but not as big as the second leg will be. We have to enjoy the football and the atmosphere and that’s important for these lads.


“When the Oakwell faithful are in good voice, it boosts everyone. The players have to get them going and that’s why everyone enjoyed it.”


With players leaving Oakwell ahead of this weekend and a few knocks and niggles to boot, Johnson assessed his options for this weekend.


“We’re not looking too bad,” he added. “Josh Scowen is the major one and he’s coming nicely which is good. We’ve been trying to push him but we have got to be careful.


“It think we’re looking at him being back in the first week in February, but if he’s ahead of schedule, it could be the last week in January to have him back and playing.”


Given all the changes, fielding a side similar to the one that started against Wigan in the Area Semi-Final, or even similar to the side that faced Millwall, is a tough ask.


However, rebuilding the side is not beyond the realms of possibility for the Head Coach, but his options may be limited.


“It’s impossible to name the same side,” Johnson quipped. “We have to make sure that we adjust and it’s important not to forget the group behind the first team and trying to constantly progress them as well.


“I think our patterns have come out quite nicely in the last couple of games and we will have to see who steps up the mark.


“It’s frustrating because you have to constantly rebuild and it’s very short-term at this level, unless it is long-term.


“What I mean by that is you have that underbelly but the senior players, most clubs only want to take on a short-term basis because the potential risk is sometimes too high.


“Sometimes you have to trust your instincts and go with a group of players you believe in and you stand or fall by how they do,” he added.


In terms of signings, Johnson is confident the club will making acquisitions ahead of this weekend, but insists there is a contingency plan if anything falls through.


Johnson said: “In the immediate, it’s clear we need a striker and we’re hopeful of bringing one in today. Make no mistake, we’ll be signing one or two, hopefully before the weekend, if not then it’s back to the drawing board.”


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