MARKUS Schopp is ‘not worried’ about Barnsley’s six-match winless run and is delighted to have several more players available ahead of games against three teams who join them in the Championship’s bottom seven over the next eight days.
The Reds visit Blackpool tomorrow then host Nottingham Forest on Wednesday before finishing the latest block of fixtures at home to Millwall on October 2.
The Reds have not won since a 1-0 home victory over Coventry City last month, after which they have drawn four and lost two – giving them eight points from as many games so far and putting them 19th in the early table.
Schopp told the Chronicle: “I am not worried.
“There were a couple of games when we were lucky with a point and a couple of games when we should have had more.
“We are where we are.
“I personally wish we had more points.
“But we know what we can do better so we are not worried.”
Schopp, who has been missing up to eight members of his first team squad at times, has had to use players out of position and give several debuts.
Liam Kitching has served his three game-ban for a headbutt against Birmingham in August while Josh Benson, who has also missed all three September games so far due to Covid-19, returned to training this week.
Jordan Williams, Ben Williams and Romal Palmer have all returned to full training this week following injuries.
Ben and Jordan are both in contention to play tomorrow with Palmer expected to also be, as long as he comes through today well. Obbi Oulare has also joined in group training but may not be ready for tomorrow’s game.
Mads Andersen and Carlton Morris are still out with longer-term injuries.
Schopp’s assistant Joe Laumann said: “We’re happy that the squad is getting bigger.
“Liam and Josh have been very good for us and made a big impact this season so we are happy to have them back.
“Obbi is getting better. He trained with the group and he seems to be fitter day by day. We can see what impact he is going to give us.”
Schopp said: “It is so important to have competition for places. Nothing is worse than a guy who knows he can play however he wants because there are no other options.”
Tomorrow’s hosts Blackpool are 20th in the table, behind the Reds on goal difference.
They did not win any of their first five games following promotion in May.
But, since the international break, they won 1-0 at home to promotion hopefuls Fulham which was followed by a 3-0 home loss to Huddersfield Town then a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough on Saturday.
The winner over Fulham was their only goal in four league games at Bloomfield Road this season, with no side in the division scoring fewer at home.
Laumann said: “We will face a very good side who are well-drilled.
“A team who gets promoted is always dangerous and they have had good results in the last weeks.
“But we have had a full week to work on our way to play against them, we’re confident, we know what’s coming and what we’re going to do.
“Blackpool try to play out from the back and they are very confident with that. They are good against the ball. They have good players and are a good side.
“It’s crucial for us to win for the confidence of the young players.
“We have three games before the break and we want to get back to winning ways.”
The Reds are expected to be backed by about 3,000 of their fans in Blackpool.
Laumann said: “It’s unbelievable.
“I think the Barnsley fans at the minute are second to none in this division. They were amazing at QPR and Stoke and now 3,000 at Blackpool. The support by the fans is very important for us and we look forward to seeing them.”
Blackpool have two former Barnsley players in Callum Connolly, who played three games on loan in 2016 from Everton who he eventually left this year, and Kenny Dougall who made 43 appearances for the Reds between 2018 and last year when he was released.
This will be the 104th meeting of the clubs, with Barnsley winning 46 and losing 32.
Pool have won just one of the last ten league meetings since 2011, losing five including both clashes in the 2018/19 League One campaign.
Barnsley have a decent record at Bloomfield Road as, in 12 league visits since 1981, they have lost two and won seven including a 1-0 triumph on their last visit in December 2018 thanks to Cameron McGeehan’s header.
On Barnsley’s start in general, Laumann said: “We would be a lot happier if he had taken a lot more points and there’s a lot to improve on. But we’ve shown we can be solid, the young players are stepping up. It’s a process to get better understanding between the team then we will win more games.
“It’s a young group that just needs a bit more confidence and it’s going to come. We truly believe in the quality of the players, they showed it at QPR in the first 45 minutes. We need to try to do that more for sure.”