– Benson out for 2-4 weeks, Edwards doubt for Oxford, Wolfe back
– Duff: ‘I don’t think anyone will be sold, but I can’t guarantee it’
MICHAEL Duff is pleased to win Manager of the Month but, after more injuries, is focused on ‘getting through the next month’ to January when he believes no players will be sold and hopes key additions arrive.
The Barnsley head coach has been named League One manager of the Month for November this morning.
The Reds are currently fourth in League One – three points inside the play-off places – with 33 from 19 games so far.
They won 2-1 at fellow high-flyers Peterborough United on Friday, a fourth straight league victory and sixth out of seven in all competitions.
But Tom Edwards and Josh Benson both limped off with injuries.
Edwards is a doubt for tomorrow’s game at Oxford United while Benson is out for two to four weeks with a hamstring problem.
If Edwards cannot play, they are likely to play the back five that finished Friday’s game with Robbie Cundy – who is from Oxford and was released by them as a teenager – replacing Edwards on the right of the back three.
Cundy has not started since before the winning league run began.
The only other fit centre-back with first team experience is Jasper Moon who has not played a minute of league football under Duff but could return to the bench.
Benson has been a substitute in recent weeks but his absence leaves Barnsley light on cover in midfield and right wing-back.
Midfielder Matty Wolfe – who has been out since August with an ankle problem – is back in training and expected to return to the squad tomorrow.
Conor McCarthy is out for the season while Will Hondermarck, Slobodan Tedic, Luke Thomas and Jordan Helliwell are not expected back until 2023.
Duff told the Chronicle: “We have to find a way to get through the next month, whether we have to change shape or play people out of position.
“We have said all season we are a little bit light then the season starts to bite at this time of year.
“The weather and pitches start to turn and that often coincides with lots of injuries. But we’re not the only club in the league that is happening to.
“We just crack on and do our best.
“It’s an opportunity for somebody else to get in the team.
“We’ll count the bodies after every game and see where we are at and pick a team we hope can win the next game.
“But we have only got three weeks left until the January window.
“I don’t think we’ll sign seven or eight but hopefully we will strengthen in a couple of areas.”
Barnsley are hoping to strengthen in the January transfer window, with strikers and a right wing-back among the targets.
They are also hoping to keep star players such as captain Mads Andersen.
Duff said: “I don’t think anyone will be sold. But I can’t guarantee it.
“There’s been a lot of work to get this group where it is. You don’t want rip it up and start again.
“But in January you do get funny bids sometimes when clubs are desperate.
“I am hoping they stay. But I am not in charge of that. Like every club, every player has is price.
“I would like to think the player sales in the summer will get us through January and then we start again.
“It’s not the window to sell two and bring in seven or eight.
“I think the board realise where we are at.
“But it depends if a bid comes in that is far good to turn down.”
Despite the injuries, Barnsley are on the longest run of wins in league matches since the seven-game sequence in the Championship under Valerien Ismael last year.
If they win at mid-table Oxford tomorrow it will be their first five-game winning run in League One since early 2016 under Lee Johnson then Paul Heckingbottom.
It will also give Barnsley their highest points total after 20 games of any season since 1980/81.
That form has earned Duff the League One Manager of the Month.
He told the Chronicle: “I was nominated earlier in the season as well.
“Then we had a month when we didn’t score a goal but we have had a couple of positive months.
“From a selfish point of view I graduated from Liverpool University (with an LMA diploma in football management) on Monday then won this award at the end of the week.
“It’s been a nice month but it’s just recognition of the work the players have put in.
“We’ve fully deserved a lot of the results.
“It’s not like Brad (Collins, goalkeeper) has been keeping us in games and we’ve been scraping through with smash and grab wins. Good performances have led to good results.”
He added: “It (the award) doesn’t mean a great deal in terms of us moving forward.
“It’s a little doth of the cap then we keep cracking on.
“It was a short month with only a couple of league games, not like December or January with eight league games.
“It’s recognition for all the staff.
“I am working with them for the first time and it’s different for them.
“They have all bought into what I want to do.
“It’s always me and the players rolled out in front of the cameras but a lot of work goes on behind the scenes.”
Duff is pleased with the improvement in his side’s attitude throughout the season.
He said: “There is a realisation now that there are no gimmes. Just because you were in the Championship last season doesn’t mean you will be alright in League One this year and just because you earn this much it doesn’t means you’re a good player.”