Barnsley are ready for Birmingham City's physical and aerial threat tomorrow evening says Valerien Ismael who believes he is more prepared for such an opponent than in the 3-0 loss at Cardiff City last month.

The Reds have been beaten in their last two games after they lost 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, with Romal Palmer scoring his first senior goal in the 90th minute after the hosts went 2-0 up.

Birmingham – who host Barnsley from 7.45pm tomorrow – are 17th, one place below the Reds who are ahead of them on goal difference. The Blues drew 0-0 at home to Millwall on Saturday, so are winless in five since October. 

City have ten goals from 14 games with only the bottom four scoring fewer this season, while they play a direct style of football similar to Cardiff who surprised Ismael in his second game in charge in October. 

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Ismael told the Chronicle: "We will prepare in a different way than against Blackburn or Brentford because Birmingham play another way of football. But we know this and I am looking forward to it. We will have to adapt and make some different decision, but we know what we have to do to be better than against Cardiff. 

"For the future, we have to have more flexibility in our squad to play against teams who play a different way. We might have more possession and we have to be good against set pieces." 

He added: "It will be a tough game. It will be a lot of set pieces, they have a very strong striker. But we are prepared. We have to go to Birmingham to take the fight and the duels and to take the chances that we will have." 

Defender Michael Sollbauer added: "After the defeat against Cardiff we said we made a bad performance and tomorrow is the right game to show we have improved. We know what will come and we will show we are ready. 

"There will be a lot of set pieces and a lot of long balls. We will have the right answers, my two other centre halves (Michal Helik and Mads Andersen) are massive and I am confident we will deal with it. We need to win most of the duels, we can't win all of them because this is the big strength of Birmingham. But we need get on the ball, play fast and take our opportunities. 

"We have made a great step with set pieces. We changed some things with the new head coach and they worked, we just conceded one goal against Brentford which was disappointing."

Jordan Williams is out for the game, but Aapo Halme could return after injury. Ismael is managing his squad through a period of three games in six days with Bournemouth due to visit Oakwell at 5.30pm on Friday. 

"This is the most difficult thing and it is the first time that I played three games in six days. But we try to find a new way. You can't train hard or stay all the time on the pitch with the players. We need to stay fresh and focused for the games and that is the main focus for my staff."

Herbie Kane made an impressive full debut on Saturday at Blackburn Rovers, in place of Matty James and Ismael admits the choice between the two central midfielders could be a tough one. 

"They are both very good technical players and strong with the ball. But they are two different players. Matty James has a lot of experience and you see this in games, but Herbie is a young player with a lot of quality and very good set pieces. We have a lot of possibilities in this position. But in other positions it is more difficult. 

"In some positions we have too many players in some not enough players. I am not happy with the balance of the squad and I am waiting to make changes in the January transfer window. The most important thing in this position is aggressiveness to win duels and play with the ball, after that you need quality."

Ismael wants better finishing and defending in key moments than in Blackburn when his side dominated early on but went 2-0 down. 

"The Championship is very very special league. It is like a marathon, you have to be focused on every game and take them one by one. You have to be at 100 per cent all the time and we need the killer mentality in the box. We are in a developing process at the moment. 

"We showed at Blackburn consistency in our performance, which is very very good, but we need the results so we need to be more clinical and more focused in the critical area in defence and offence. 

"Last week was a bad week for the results but not for performances, this week we need the results also because they bring confidence to the players."