Barnsley are targeting six wins from the final 23 games of the season to secure their Championship safety but Valerien Ismael hopes that is achieved long before the end of the campaign.

The Reds are ninth in the Championship, with 34 points at the halfway point of the season – their joint most at that level in 20 years.

They are three points off the top six and 15 above the relegation zone.

Head coach Ismael told the Chronicle: “We are ahead of schedule. We need six wins minimum in the last 23 games. This is our purpose. We will focus on getting the six wins as quick as possible then we will have more confidence and be more calm.

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“That will take the pressure off us and we can be more fresh on the pitch.”

Having played 12 matches in 43 days up to and including Saturday’s loss at Norwich City, the Reds now have a less demanding schedule in January.

There has been a free week before Sunday’s FA Cup game at home to Tranmere Rovers then another before they host Swansea City on January 16. Ismael said: “We have more time between the next games. We can work with the guys in training more.

“We have enough time to integrate everybody. We missed six players through injuries and Covid and we bring in signings, which will give us more chances to win games in the future.”