Barnsley's players have extra motivation after falling out of the top six for the first time this season, says assistant coach Andreas Winkler.

The Reds are currently on a four-match winless run in the league which has brought them two points. They are seventh, two points adrift of the play-off positions with a game in hand on all but one of the sides above them.

They now play four games in ten days against sides in the top eight. They visit eighth-placed Blackpool tomorrow before taking on the teams in fourth, fifth and second as they host Peterborough United on Wednesday and Charlton Athletic the following Saturday before visiting Luton Town on January 1.

Winkler told the Chronicle: “The players are disappointed to be out of the top six, but not in a way that they just look at the ground. They will keep their chin up and be more aggressive. We have had some tough sessions in training and everyone wants to go for a win. I think being out of the top six has given them more motivation.”

Barnsley are 12 points off leaders Portsmouth and eight behind Luton who are in the second automatic promotion place. Winkler said: “We can’t let the teams above get away and we have more pressure on us now.

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"We want to play well but it is all about results and starting a winning run. We probably need 85 to 90 points to get into the top two and I believe we can do it. It looks like, in this period of the season, we cannot afford many more defeats. If Sunderland and Portsmouth play very well, it will be hard to catch them.”

The busy festive fixture list will be a totally new experience for the Reds’ German coaching staff. Whereas in Germany, the leagues stop for three weeks from the weekend before Christmas until the middle of January, the Reds will play on Boxing Day, December 29 and New Year’s Day.

Head coach Daniel Stendel said: “It is special and new for me and my coaching staff. I am looking forward to this time, we have big games and it will be a nice time for all our supporters to watch us.”

Winkler added: “It will be very different, but only if I think about Christmas. We also had lots of midweek games in November and October. It’s the same. We know this is a very important period for fans in England.

“It is a very good schedule to have two home games, especially for my family who are coming over to visit me and watch our games. I am very excited for the Boxing Day match, because I have never seen a match on that day before.”

After the loss at Wycombe, Winkler was encouraged by the performance in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with runaway leaders Portsmouth, in which the Reds missed several chances.

“It was much better, we had 70 per cent ball possession and everyone was much more focused on their running, attacking and counter-pressing. We didn’t concede a lot of chances against the team who were at the top of the league.

"In my view, it was one of our best performances of the season and I think the fans were pleased with it as well. Our most consistent player of the season (Alex Mowatt) made a mistake for the goal but we came back very well and could have won it.”