Barnsley striker Jacob Brown has told fans to ‘stay safe’ during the coronavirus outbreak and says the squad would like to finish the season to make sure they ‘deserve’ to stay up. 

Gerhard Struber’s Reds are currently seven points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Championship, after the season was paused with nine games remaining.  Games are due to restart on April 30, although that is thought by many to be unlikely, while the EFL and FA have said the season will be delayed indefinitely until it is safe to play rather than declare it null and void or treat the current standings as final.

Speaking from his home over the phone this week, Brown told the Chronicle: “I think the best thing to do is finish the season. You never know what could happen in nine games.  But, obviously, people’s safety is what comes first so, if the season can’t go ahead for that reason, then something else will have to happen. 

“It would be easy for the season to just finish then we would have another go at the Championship next season.  But we wouldn’t feel like we had deserved it if that happened.  “If the season was to carry on and we stayed up, that would be a really great feeling.  We definitely feel we can do that. Form has gone out of the window because it’s been a long break so it’s just nine games on their own for us to give it our all.”

Another option discussed is to play the remaining games behind closed doors. Brown said: “It would feel a bit weird but, if that’s the best solution, then it might have to happen. The fans wouldn’t be too happy and I don’t blame them at all.  We just have to find the safest solution.”

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Asked to send a message to the Reds fans, Brown said: “Football is what most of us think about but we have to forget about that for now and do what the government is saying.  Stay safe then, when we find out more about football, we can take it from there.”

Brown is set to spend his 22nd birthday, which is on April 10, in lockdown.  He is exercising regularly but says that is not the most tricky element of the break.  He said: “It’s more a mental challenge than anything. Not only are you not playing football, you can’t go out and do anything to take your mind off it. You are either at home or running.  Keeping fit is probably not the hardest part, it’s the mental challenge. 

“It’s hard. Football is all I do in my life so when that is taken away from you, you think: what is there to do?’  I have been chilling at home with my girlfriend and going out to do a run every day. At first, when we didn’t know how long we would be off, the sports scientists gave us a basic programme to keep us ticking over but, now that it looks like we will be out longer, we have all been given individual programmes. 

“We have got an app so that everyone player can see what everyone else is doing. Everyone is keeping fit so it is good.  We have a group chat as a squad so we are sending a few messages to see what everyone is up to. Because we don’t know when we are going to be back at the club, you can’t just have a rest. Gerhard has been updating us, making sure we are all well and letting us know that we need to stay fit and keep our minds sharp, ready for whatever happens.”

Brown has scored two goals in 31 Championship appearances this season, while his last Oakwell strike was in the 4-2 home win over Fleetwood Town almost a year ago, starting a run of three in three which helped the Reds gain automatic promotion from League One. He said: “I am big on my confidence and scoring goals means you can express yourself more. “When the first game back comes I will be looking to score then, if that happens, hopefully I can finish the season like I did last season.”