Barnsley face an ‘incredible schedule’ at the end of 2020 but Valerien Ismael believes his players are ready to continue their fine start under him as head coach.
The Reds are due to host Nottingham Forest tomorrow and Brentford on Tuesday, at the start of a run of 12 games in 43 days until the New Year.
Barnsley will play every weekend and every midweek until they visit Swansea City on December 19.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “It is an incredible schedule but I am very happy we have a lot of players ready for this.
“We accept the schedule, we don’t want to complain.
“It is the same for any team and we are focused on our principles. It is good for the players to not focus too much on the big and tough schedule, and just focus game after game. It is an opportunity to pick up many points. That is why we play football, that is why we wake up every morning and come into training.”
Barnsley’s last game was a 2-0 success at Derby County on November 7. Since then, they have had a two-week international break. After giving the players most of last week off, Ismael has had them back in training as he hopes to get more of his ideas across having played four matches in his first fortnight at Oakwell. He said: “We have worked on all of our principles - out of possession, in possession. We work on things again and again and again until they are clear.
“Each day we have a main focus and we show the guys clips of the last games and tell them what we want to improve.
“We worked every day on the training pitch. It was a very good week.
“I know them better as people now. It was very good to be quiet and calm and to have one on one discussions with them. You can take your time and stay longer on the pitch, for half an hour or an hour to explain what you want from each player. The weather was good so we could do this. I am very happy about the work we did in this break.”
Barnsley have won three of four games under Ismael, having not won any of their first seven league matches of a season for the first time in 29 years.
They are now 16th, six points off both the bottom three and the top six.
“It is very important to not think about what has happened, it was very good but know we start from zero and it is another situation we have to face.
“I told my players that what we have done is not enough, we can’t be satisfied because we need many more points.
“We are the underdog in each game but we need to be ready for each game to be unpleasant for the opponent and try to get three points in every game.
“It is too early to look at the table, with 35 games still to play. This season is a long, long way.”
A change in the rules this week means that EFL clubs can now bring on five substitutes instead of the usual three, with nine players allowed on the bench.
The move has provoked criticism from some who say it favours wealthier clubs with larger squads but others say it will help to rest players and prevent the spate of injuries endured recently by Barnsley and others. Ismael said: “It will be good for us to have the possibility to make more changes. We can give minutes to players who are recovering from injuries. It’s a good feeling for every manager.
“You can stay concentrated on the opponent, about them having more money and a bigger squad, or you can focus on our team. We have more possibility to change because we play high intensity football. When you can change the three guys up front after one hour, it could be good for us. Every player has more satisfaction because they have more chance to play.”