As the Reds prepare for a Friday evening showdown with the Royals, our Head Coach in his pre-match press conference spoke of renewed intensity as we head into the home straight of the 20/21 campaign.
The Reds have had the opportunity to breathe with the international break coming at a decent time considering a fairly leggy looking performance last time out against Sheffield Wednesday.
But a couple of players weren’t afforded that rest, as both Daryl Dike (USA) and Michał Helik (Poland) were in action for their national teams.
Ismaël believes both men will be ready for Friday night’s encounter with the Royals.
He told us: “Daryl was back in on Monday, he’s okay, and Michał messaged to say he’s okay and on his way back and should be good for tomorrow.
“We only have Herbie Kane missing other than the long-term injuries of Liam Kitching and Ben Williams. It’s a knee injury with him (Kane), but not long-term.
“I feel Michał’s experience will be a big benefit for him as a player and for us too. He has done very well and that can only be positive for us.
“But both he and Dike are only focused on tomorrow and Barnsley and the rest of this season.”
The gaffer says the group have benefited from a rare week on the training ground in preparation for the Reading game, set to be broadcast to the nation on Sky Sports Football.
He feels there’s renewed energy, expects an intensity in his players from the first whistle but isn’t interested in talking about the magnitude of the game or the furore regards the Reds’ future prospects.
Once again, Valérien refuses to focus on anything but the match ahead of Barnsley.
“We need to be at 100% from the start of the game.” Ismaël admitted.
“We are refreshed, we feel in a good way and our batteries are full. Our training sessions have been incredible and so tomorrow I expect that same intensity and aggression in the game.
“Reading have a big, big quality in their squad. One of the best teams in the league. They have a clear philosophy and way to play football. So tomorrow we will see two different styles.
“But it’s only the next game. We continue one by one.”
Asked what he feels it is that has helped the squad lift Barnsley to heights they haven’t reached in over 20 years, the boss gave a brief but simple response.
There’s no secret formula. For the Frenchman, it is about everyone knowing their roles and responsibilities and working together for the greater good.
“After 10 years of doing the job, I know that my main role is to produce clarity.
“It’s about knowing everything clearly, no grey areas. I’ve said this from day one to my players.
“They understand everything that we ask of them. They can always speak with me. Everything is open and clear.
“Clarity is everything for me.”