Gerhard Struber admits it is unknown whether Barnsley have the defenders to keep them in the Championship but hopes the 3-0 success at high-flying Fulham will be a ‘catalyst’ to a winning run towards safety.

With 13 games remaining in the Championship season, the Reds are last in the table, six points from safety. They ended a run of five losses and a draw from six games with a 3-0 victory at the third-placed Cottagers on Saturday. Barnsley have been trying to bring in a centre-back as a free agent, but Struber admits it is ‘not easy’.

Currently their only players in that position are January signing Michael Sollbauer – Struber’s captain at former club Wolfsberger – and Aapo Halme, who kept a clean sheet at Fulham on Saturday, and Mads Andersen who has been dropped after a series of mistakes.  Bambo Diaby is suspended during an investigation into an alleged failed drugs test.

Struber told the Chronicle: “I think Sollbauer gives the whole team a good feeling. He is a player with the right experience and also a player with quality. He knows what he must do in the right moments and he has a good influence on other players. He can help Aapo, he can help Kili (Ludewig), he can help Jordan (Williams). But he is not a magic player, he is a good centre-back. 

“Aapo played a good game in Fulham but the next step is to be consistent, also for the other defenders. This is our big aim. In the end, we will see if our defence is enough or not enough.”

On the search for a new centre-back, Struber said: “We have looked at a lot of free agents. It is not close. It’s not so easy to find the right player. When I am 100 per cent clear that the player can help us from the first second, then we take him. It is not easy to find a player like that. The problem with free agents is they don’t have the fitness we need, they are not ready to help with sprints. We have no time for integration over four or five weeks. We need a player with the right fitness and attitude.”

On Andersen, who was dropped from the squad after gifting Birmingham a goal last week, Struber said: “Mads made a very good training this week he is clear in his mind. We had a long talk about the game against Birmingham and the games before. We spoke about the mistakes. He is a part of this squad and of Barnsley FC. In the next few weeks he will come back and help us.”

Struber was delighted with the win in London on Saturday, but knows it has to be followed with consistent good form. He said: “We need a run of wins. We hope that Fulham is a catalyst for that. The last game was a kick-off for our confidence. I can see the belief in the boys, they believe in our competence and our plan. It was a big win against a massive opponent. We had a big belief in us and the right plan. After the game, we had a good mood and the whole training week has been brilliant. 

“We now have the right self-confidence. Every single player knows we have a chance to stay in the league when we work with the right attitude and have the right concentration, especially in set plays. When we play like we did at Fulham, it isn’t easy to play against Barnsley.”

The Reds host 18th-placed Middlesbrough tomorrow before travelling to 17th-placed Hull City on Wednesday then 15th-placed Reading the following Saturday. All three of those sides are in the bottom four in the form table over seven games, winning just one game between them in that time. Struber said: “The only focus is in our performance. The consequence right now is maybe Middlesbrough go more down, but we have to focus on our performance.

“In the last few months we have picked up points and our style has been better and better. In the last few games we have problems with individual mistakes and that crashed our energy but now we are on a good way and we hope we can pick up points. Luton, Charlton and other teams also pick up points so it is not easy to come out of the relegation zone. It is a tough league. Every team is giving everything, we need the right resilience.”