MICHAEL Duff trusts his players to bounce back from their shock midweek loss and says everyone at Oakwell would have taken the 13 points from a possible 18 in a tough March fixture list.
The Reds are fourth in League One, seven points behind second-placed Sheffield Wednesday and eight off leaders Plymouth Argyle. They have a game in hand on both the top two.
They lost 3-1 at midweek Exeter City on Tuesday, ending an unbeaten of 12 games with ten wins. They now host relegation-battling Morecambe tomorrow – the first of nine remaining matches.
Duff told the Chronicle: “I am confident in the group and trust the players to react in the right way.
“I have a better relationship with the players than the last time we lost which was a while ago.
“Having watched the Exeter game back, it wasn’t as turgid as I thought but we didn’t hit our best levels and we weren’t quite at it.
“I can’t guarantee the results but I am expecting to see better performances.”
He added: “It’s a wake-up call. I don’t think the wheels have fallen off just yet. It’s hard to win games.
“We’ve shown the lads where the press wasn’t quite right, where we can use the ball better and Exeter running harder than us. We expect a response.”
Barnsley have just come through a run of fixtures which was billed as season-defining – winning at home to Derby, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Wednesday while their away matches saw them draw at Bristol Rovers, beat Wycombe then lose at Exeter.
“I don’t think there is anyone at the club who wouldn’t have taken that.
“We always want more and, when you win one, you want to win the next one.
“It’s important we don’t have any over reaction (to Exeter). We don’t become a bad team overnight.”
Recent Oakwell games have brought some of the biggest attendances of the last decade with several thousand in the away end. The next few matches are unlikely to have the same numbers but Duff wants similar support.
“I don’t think it’s disrespectful to say the away end won’t be as full.
“But our supporters won’t expect our players’ standards to drop and we don’t expect the supporters to turn up and sit on their hands. They haven’t done for the last three or four weeks. The atmosphere has been brilliant. I don’t expect the same intensity and crackle as against Sheffield Wednesday but there is an onus on the supporters to come and be just as vociferous, enthusiastic and supportive.”
Liam Kitching hurt his knee in midweek but Duff expects him to play.
Other than Matty Wolfe and Conor McCarthy who are out for the season with serious knee injuries, Barnsley have had a fully fit squad for weeks.
“Credit should go to the medical staff and sports science team for their management of the workload.
“The ones with Wolfie and Conor were out of our control, they just happen in football, but you can control the muscle injuries and I think we’ve done that well. I don’t want to jinx but it’s been good.”