Ahead of our Sky Bet Championship clash against Brentford, Valérien Ismaël says Barnsley virtually have a clean bill of health as players continue to make their return from injury.
With the exception of long-term absentee Ben Williams, only Aapo Halme is unavailable for the Bees’ visit as the defender picked up a slight niggle while with Finland U21s last week.
“He has, from the international duty, a little problem with his calf and that’s why we don’t want to take some risks,” confirmed our Head Coach. “I hope he can come back as soon as possible. Maybe the end of this week, maybe next. We will see.”
The Reds are in fine form heading into this fixture, with four wins from the last five outings enough to propel us up to 13th in the table – just one point behind our visitors from west London.
Thomas Frank’s side are unbeaten in their last five but have drawn four of those games, including consecutive 0-0 stalemates with Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers.
After narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier League last term, many would have expected the Bees to be challenging once more and, despite their indifferent start to the campaign, Ismaël believes this will be another difficult encounter for Barnsley.
“I saw the quality from their squad; I don’t look at their results or the table,” continued the Frenchman. “I saw a very good team – a very strong opponent with very good players in front and that’s why this is my focus with my staff. We need another tough performance, a battle in all situations on the pitch. We have to be willing and ready to suffer.”
As well as claiming plenty of victories in recent weeks, the Reds are keeping clean sheets and have added a steeliness to their game.
It is an indication of the progress that Barnsley have made since Ismaël took charge at the end of October and his willingness to make tactical tweaks in order to counteract each opponent.
“When you win two, three, four times it means quality, it means hard work, it means organisation and structure – that’s what I did with my staff, to put in the principle with my team and the players were, from the first day, open for this new way,” insisted Ismaël.
“We also need to adapt to the opponent to see what we need for the Championship. Some kind of opponent are better for us, some opponents will be very tough but we have to take every challenge.”
You can watch Valérien’s press conference on iFollow Barnsley.