IT HAS been quiet at Oakwell this week – with the Barnsley first team squad and staff off until today – before the storm of the final eight games of the season begin.
The third-bottom Reds lost 2-0 at local rivals Sheffield United on Saturday before fourth-bottom Reading beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0 to increase the gap to safety to five points.
Barnsley have eight games remaining, starting with Reading at home a week tomorrow.
The first team were given five days off after Saturday’s derby but were due back in training today apart from Michal Helik and Callum Styles who are on international duty.
Head coach Poya Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “This break is about recovery and also about re-grouping and going through collective things that will be really important for the last eight games.
“I hope we can rest but also have good training. We know we don’t have just any game coming up, it is Reading which is a big game.
“When players have a day off here and there, always in their minds will be Reading. I hope they can mentally rest but the closer it gets, the motivation will be bigger and bigger.”
He added: “I am confident we have the ability to bounce back.
“We have bounced back in the table and in the season.
“We have been doomed but we came back. That shows very strong mentality from young players.
“It will require a lot to come back, it’s not easy but we have done more difficult things.”
Barnsley’s club captain Cauley Woodrow has missed almost four months with an ankle injury, which needed surgery, while his fellow striker Victor Adeboyejo is out with a jaw injury which has ruled him out of contact training.
Asked if either could return for the Reading game, Asbaghi said: “I don’t think there will be much difference in the squad.
“Maybe we could have players back in the games after Reading.”
Barnsley have collected 14 points from their last nine games, doubling their tally for the season after winning two of the first 29.
Asked what Barnsley will specifically work on during this break, Asbaghi said: “We will focus on details.
“There was a time earlier in the season when we had to talk about big fundamentals but now we are doing better so we can be really specific in details.
“We will address what we can do better from our last game.”
This is the first international break Asbaghi has had with the team, having been appointed at the end of the last one in November.
They then played 22 games in 17 weeks, including a spell when they were down to nine first team players due to Covid-19 cases and injuries.
Poya said: “Until recently, I could probably count on one hand the training days we have had with nearly a full squad and no midweek game.
“You cannot really work on anything, it is about making sure the players are recovering and talking about the next game.
“We have had more time to do real training in the last weeks which has been very good.”
After the Reading game, Barnsley visit Millwall on April 9 then Swansea City on Good Friday, April 15.
They then host another bottom four side Peterborough United on April 18, Easter Monday, before visiting local rivals Huddersfield Town on April 23.
They complete the season with a game in hand against Blackpool at home on Tuesday April 26 then another home game against Preston North End on April 30 before visiting West Bromwich Albion on the last day, May 7.