Barnsley captain Alex Mowatt admits the belief that they would avoid another relegation scrap started to fade during a winless first seven games but has come back after an excellent start under Valerien Ismael.

The Reds stayed up in the final seconds of last season but, despite a slow start, are now six points clear of the bottom three with 13 from 11 games.

Mowatt told the Chronicle: “The belief did waver a bit because we didn’t start the season well.

“But all the lads stuck together, we’ve had a good month and we want to build on it. You would rather be picking up points all season than have to get loads at the end like last season.

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“We should have had more points but, since the gaffer has been in, we have been doing well. We’re hoping to be a lot higher this season.”

Ismael has won three of his first four games. Mowatt said: “The way the gaffer sets up is to win each game and so far, so good. Everyone has bought into it and we’ve been picking up points.

“I have really enjoyed working with him. Training is intense and he doesn’t take any crap from the lads. That’s shown in the games as well. All the players respect the gaffer, he’s a big scary lad.”

Mowatt has been inundated with awards, having won Championship Goal of the Month for his strike at Millwall and Barnsley’s award for another long-range stunner against Watford while he is also the Reds’ player of the month for October.

“The Watford goal was definitely my favourite. It won us the game and I think it was a better strike than the Millwall one. The Watford goal is my favourite one for Barnsley.”

Mowatt is enjoying playing with holding midfielder Matty James who arrived on transfer deadline day.

“It’s similar to when I played with Kenny (Dougall).

“He likes to sit more and that helps me get forward and score.”

Barnsley now play 12 games in 43 days. Mowatt said: “It’s probably the busiest time I have had but footballers want to play football and the more the better. We’re looking forward to it.”