Our Head Coach addressed the media prior to Wednesday's clash with the Bluebirds at Oakwell.
ON PERSONAL HEALTH
“Finally, I feel good. Obviously, it was tough to be away from the team, but now I’m healthy enough to come back and I feel fresh. Even though I’ve not been there, I’ve felt comfortable knowing we have a good staff and good coaches.
“Ferran, Jo and Martin have been handling the group and taking care in a good way, so I was not worried in that part. But, of course, it feels good to be back with the team.
“I’ve been in contact through the phone; I’ve not been able to be present live, but we have had our discussions every day, maybe even more through the phone than ever. Of course, it’s a little bit frustrating not to be able to be there and communicate directly with the staff and players.
“But I felt like I had a really good surrounding around me here and I knew we have competent people to take care of things, so, for the players, it would not be that big a difference when I’m away or present.”
ON INJURIES AND COVID
“January has been really tough for us as a football club. We have had an average of 10 to 12 players in training. We started this year by having games postponed – games where we actually had the numbers to play, but our opponents didn’t.
“When we did not have the numbers, we could not postpone because we had more injuries than Covid cases, so we have really struggled this month with having the numbers in training and numbers to play games.
“We have had a few players who have been able to do it and they have put in a lot of sacrifice. A lot of players have played more minutes than they should, coming back from Covid and so on. A lot of young players have had the chance to be in the first team and made their debuts as well, but overall, we have suffered a lot.
“What I’m hoping is that the worst times are behind us, that we now go back to getting more and more players, hopefully, back from injury and that I’m hopefully the last Covid case we have in the squad.
“That way, with the new players arriving that we can compete in a good way in training and also start getting the results we want.”
ON DEADLINE DAY SIGNINGS
“Amine is an offensive midfielder; he’s a technically gifted player, he has a good delivery from set-pieces and with good finishing. I’m hoping that he’s one of those players who can help us convert good attacks and also score goals, which we need to do more.
“I think his best position is not to play as the highest player in the team, but more as a supporting attacker behind the highest players where he can combine coming into shooting situations, but as well make good deliveries for other players to score.”
“Domingos is more of a one v one player who can take on defenders. We, as a team, are in need of those players that can help us with their individual skill to push our opponents down and take on players so that we can move up.
“As well as being able to push teams down, he can create chances on his own and I hope, with his speed, I’m hoping he can help us be better on the counter-attack than what we have been. So, there’s more than one thing that I hope he can contribute with.
“Both are fit. In terms of being ready for the game, Domingos has been in England, so I’m hoping he can be ready in time – it shouldn’t be a problem. With Amine, we have to wait for the Visa to be approved and, at this moment right now, I don’t know if it’s going to happen for tomorrow or not. But I’m sure he will be with us soon.”
ON OBBI OULARÉ
“Now he’s out on loan and, for us, it’s important that we follow this up – we will look how he is doing on his loan. We are not excluding him from anything and we hope that this adventure he will now have will do him good in terms of getting training and, especially, playing – something that we at this moment were not sure we can give him.
“When he does, hopefully he can do well and then he can be an option for us when the time comes. So, we will follow up and see."
ON BOURNEMOUTH GAME
“What we have, despite us not winning games, or when we draw games, or when we have had 10 players available for games or whatever – one thing that has never been missing is the fighting spirit of players that have played.
“It’s easy to say you should have fighting spirit, but it’s easy to lose it when you see players getting injured a lot and people get Covid and you don’t have a lot of players in training. It’s easy to lose this fighting spirit – to lose the belief – but our players have it, and I think the performance against Bournemouth showed that.
“With a lot of players missing and a lot of young players played, and no one stopped believing. Maybe we deserved more than losing in that game against a top, top team.
“So, we know that if we can get even more players back and new players coming in contributing that, for sure, we can build on this performance and hopefully get the three points tomorrow.”
ON MATTY WOLFE AND AIDEN MARSH
“If you start with Matty, I think he was one of the best players on the pitch, to be honest, against Bournemouth. We know with him that he has a history, that the talent has always been there, but he has struggled a lot with injuries.
“So, for us, it’s about hoping that we can get a Matty Wolfe that is ready to compete week by week and not getting stopped by injuries because then we know he’s a midfielder that can definitely be someone who contributes to Barnsley already this year and also in the long term.
“I’m not so sure that, now, he can play game by game with the history that he has had, but he showed us against Bournemouth that he will be someone to count on in the future.
“With Marshy, we like his talent from the beginning – he has a good attitude and a good left foot. He almost scored with his first touch of the game, which would have been an incredible debut.
“It feels good to know that these young players are in here and that they can compete with our players about playing time, but also that they showed our fans that even if you feel right now is tough – the situation with Barnsley – that we have these young kids coming from the academy and they are ready to show there is a bright future for Barnsley, no matter what is happening in the short term.”
ON CARDIFF CITY
“We know that they come from a good game against Nottingham Forest; they defended really well in that game and didn’t concede many chances against a team that we know can create and score goals.
“So, for sure, we know with the confidence that they built in that game that they will come here and fight and make it difficult for us to create chances. We know that with their way of playing they will put a lot of players inside the box for their own crosses, so we have to be good defending our own final third against a good weapon that they have.
“But of course, we identified that they have not had the season that they want, either, which shows that they have weaknesses in their squad and way of playing that we hope to expose tomorrow.”