The Reds' Head Coach confirmed the sad news that Alex Mowatt, Conor Chaplin, Brad Collins and George Miller were all unavailable due to coronavirus related issues, when he spoke with the press on New Year's Day.
After a round of COVID-19 testing following the Reds' victory at Rotherham United during the week, two players were confirmed positive as having the virus, with others having to also self-isolate.
It isn't ideal for preparations ahead of a long trip to Norfolk tomorrow, but Valérien Ismaël - although frustrated - believes it's an opportunity for others to take their own chances at Carrow Road.
“Alex Mowatt and Brad Collins tested positive for the virus.” Confirmed the gaffer.
“They will not be involved tomorrow. Both of George Miller and Conor Chaplin will be missing also as they are self-isolating having been in contact with others who have the virus.
“It is a blow and they will be big misses for us. But it is an opportunity for others now, and will also allow Alex especially a chance to breathe, to rest because he's put a lot of work in recently.
“We have excellent protocols at Barnsley, our Head Physio, Craig Sedgwick reacted brilliantly and did a great job in limiting the spread and we believe we can play on.”
If Reds striker Cauley Woodrow is involved tomorrow afternoon, he will be making his 100th appearance for the club.
Having notched his 43rd goal for Barnsley in the win at Rotherham, he has been a huge player at Oakwell in that time period and Valérien admits that in Cauley, Barnsley have a player at the top of his game.
“Like Alex, Cauley is one of our key players. He plays at the top of his game, he is so consistent and he is on the way to making the next step.
“I think he can do more, he can improve still. We believe he will only confirm his quality in 2021 and we hope that we can keep our best players because we think it’s a special time for us.
“We intend to finish this season with even more quality, not reduce it.”
Saturday sees the Reds tackle the league leaders on their own patch, before a number of other clashes with sides in the upper reaches of the Sky Bet Championship table.
It might well be a month in which we learn a lot more about the Reds and this season in general.
“This month is a tough one, it is a big challenge.” Admitted Ismaël.
“But last month gave us the confidence and belief to attack these games. We know we can compete and beat anyone in this division.
“Tomorrow is game one, it is the start. Norwich are top of the table and this will be a big test for us but it is one that we are relishing as we look to start 2021 in style.”
With the January transfer window about to open, the inevitable questions were asked, but the boss instead chose to focus on tomorrow's trip to Norwich City.
“There will be movement in and out in this window as I’ve said before, maybe even next week. But my focus is only on tomorrow, and that goes for our players also.
“But we know where we need to improve, where to add quality and of course, there are players who will interest other clubs and others who want more game-time.”