Valerien Ismael believes his Barnsley side need four wins from their remaining eight matches to finish in the Championship’s play-off places this season.
The Reds are currently fifth with 64 points, five points clear of the sides outside the top six although seventh-placed Bournemouth have a game in hand. Their 12-game unbeaten run, with nine wins from the last ten, ended with a 2-1 home derby loss to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
They are now midway through an international break which ends a week today at home to sixth-placed Reading.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “If you want to get in the play-offs you will need maybe 75 points, if you see the statistics of the last years.
“We need four wins from the last eight games. We have to stay focused.
“The next game against Reading is against a direct opponent so everything is in the right direction.”
Barnsley are 11 points behind the clubs in the two automatic promotion places. Asked if the Reds could catch them, Ismael said: “I will just talk about our position. That (the top two) is really really far away. We take the reality. We are fifth with 64 points and a play-off ticket means you need 75 points at least so we need four wins from eight.”
Ismael has collected 60 points from 31 games since arriving at Oakwell in October with the Reds outside the relegation zone on goal difference having not won any of their first seven league fixtures. Asked if he is surprised that he has taken Barnsley to fifth, he said: “No. The first job was to be safe as quick as possible then the fantastic run put us in a very good position. We are here now and we want to stay here. We are capable of doing this.”
Barnsley had played 12 games in 37 days starting from their FA Cup loss to Chelsea on February 11.
The squad were given this week off before returning to training next week, although Michal Helik and Daryl Dike have been on international duty with Poland and USA respectively. Sport scientist Jonny Northeast said: “The guys have been able to re-charge mentally and physically. We have given them a programme to follow which is about relaxing then building back up for these final eight games.”
Ismael said: “The international break comes with a big welcome. Now it is time to recover, see our families and rest.
“We will come back with a big freshness and a good mindset for the last eight games. It has been a sacrifice for me and my family to be away from each other. But I speak with them on Zoom after every game and their smiles and joy give me the strength to continue with what we are doing.”