Valerien Ismael will start looking at the Championship table after tomorrow’s derby with lowly visitors Sheffield Wednesday in which Barnsley could extend their unbeaten run to the longest at second tier level in 37 years.
The Reds are fifth in the Championship with nine games to play, five points clear of the sides below the top six and eight off the second automatic promotion place.
They are unbeaten in 12 – with nine wins from the last ten – which is their longest unbeaten run at second tier level since the 2001/02 season.
Tomorrow they can make it the longest run at this level since 1984 when the second tier club record of 15 was set.
This week they won 3-2 at Bournemouth on Saturday then 3-1 at Wycombe Wanderers on Wednesday. That meant they have equalled a club record set in 1939 and 1955 for five straight away wins.
The Reds’ points tally of 64 is the best at this level in 14 Championship seasons since they reached the 2000 play-off final.
Barnsley head coach Ismael has taken 60 points from 30 games since arriving in October, the second most of any club in that time, and put the Reds in the Championship’s top six at this stage in a season for the first time since 2000.
But he has insisted all along that he will not look at the league table or publicly discuss a promotion challenge until the two-week international break which begins after tomorrow’s derby.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “The job is not finished. We have one game until the international break. We are just focused on winning the next games. We don’t think too much about the run.
“After, we will see what is going on in the table. We have a lot of time in the international break to think about what we can do in the rest of the season.”
Tomorrow’s visitors Wednesday are second-bottom in the table, nine points from safety. They had lost six games in a row before a 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield Town on Wednesday.
They are managed by former Barnsley defender Darren Moore who joined them from Doncaster Rovers last month.
The Reds will be looking to do the double over the Owls after a 2-1 success at Hillsborough in December.
Ismael said: “It will be the same as Wycombe, a big fight.
“For us it is the next game and we have to stay focused. Teams at the bottom fight and it is never an easy game in the Championship.
“It will be a big fight in a derby.
“They have a new manager so they have to change everything so we have to be aware that they change their way to play football.
“We have to adapt and control it.
“It is the last fight before the break.”
Barnsley’s in-form striker Daryl Dike added: “It will be good competition and a battle. Unfortunately the fans can’t be there but we can hopefully give them the result they want.”
Ismael was hopeful that he had no new injuries going into the derby, but captain Alex Mowatt could be suspended following his red card at Wycombe which has been appealed.
Defenders Ben Williams and Liam Kitching are still recovering from long-term injuries and may be back in contention before the end of the campaign.
After tomorrow’s 3pm kick-off, there is a two-week international break before the Reds return for the final eight games of the season.
Barnsley’s schedule after the international break: Reading, home, April 2; Luton Town, away, April 5; Middlesbrough, home, April 10; Coventry City, away, April 17; Huddersfield Town, away, April 21; Rotherham United, home, April 24; Preston North End, away, May 1; Norwich City, home, May 8.