HEAD coach Valerien Ismael says Barnsley’s recent transfer window activity means he has no qualms about maintaining the high-energy approach which has helped bring his side successive Championship wins.
The Reds, who followed up Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Brentford by beating Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Oakwell on Wednesday, play their fourth game in ten days at Bristol City tomorrow (3pm), then host Stoke City on Wednesday (7pm) as a relentless schedule rolls on.
But the rotation-loving French boss says he now has the squad not only to cope with the busy fixture list, including the 380-mile round trip to Ashton Gate, but also maintain the intense pressing tactics which demand such high levels of fitness and stamina.
As well as signing strikers Carlton Morris, who has scored in each of the last two games, and Daryl Dike, Ismael has reintegrated defender Toby Sibbick and midfielder Romal Palmer, while wing-back Jordan Williams has returned from injury, with centre-back Aapo Halme closing in on a comeback.
And he is optimistic that centre-back Liam Kitching is progressing well in his recovery from the groin problem which has prevented him playing since his arrival last month.
Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray admitted he had altered his usual tactics in a bid to thwart Barnsley, but Ismael insists there will be no deviation on his part.
“We have our way, and we won’t change,” said the man who led his former club, Austria’s LASK, to the Champions League play-offs.
Ismael substituted his entire front three during the second half of both the Brentford and Blackburn games and added: “We have the possibility to rotate, and we now see the importance of what we did in the window.
“We have more possibilities in each position, and it is not a problem to keep our intensity.
“The aim is to ensure we have a solution to any situation we find ourselves in.”
While Conor Chaplin and Morris scored after 13 and 47 minutes respectively at Brentford, it took until 72 minutes for Morris to make the breakthrough against Blackburn, with Alex Mowatt doubling the lead on 90 before former Oakwell loan striker Adam Armstrong pulled a goal back deep into time added on.
“Sometimes you have to be patient, to wait for the right moment and the right time,” said Ismael.
“At the end of the game, there was a tiredness for Blackburn because you see the pace we play and our high intensity.
“The goal we conceded was unnecessary, but in the end, we got the three points we wanted.”
With the Reds up to tenth in the table, seven points behind sixth-placed Bournemouth with a game in hand, supporters are again talking of a push for the play-offs.
But Ismael continues to look over his shoulder, claiming his first priority is to get the further eight points which would take Barnsley to 50, the total he believes would ensure second-tier survival.
“We don’t look at the league table, just the next opponent,” he said.
Bristol City parted company with head coach Dean Holden after suffering a sixth straight defeat, 2-0 at home to Reading on Tuesday.
Five of those losses have been in the league, leaving the Robins 13th with 39 points, 11 above the drop zone.
Their last win came on January 26 at the expense of Huddersfield Town, defeated 2-1 at Ashton Gate.
Barnsley are aiming to improve a dismal record at the ground, which has been extensively redeveloped in recent years.
They have won just four times in 48 visits, all but one of them in the league, going back to 1902, the most recent in 1993/93, when Ian Bryson and Neil Redfearn sealed a 2-0 second-tier success.
The last three visits, in 2016/17, 2017/18 and last season, all resulted in defeats.
Isle of Wight-based James Linington will referee the match.