PLAYING four games in nine days starting from tomorrow will be a ‘big challenge’ says Barnsley head coach Neill Collins.

The Reds are currently seventh in League One, four points outside the top six after a 1-1 draw at home to Charlton Athletic on Saturday.

They are now due to host fourth-placed Stevenage tomorrow then visit mid-table Port Vale on Tuesday for their Boxing Day game.

Barnsley are due to complete 2023 at second-placed Peterborough United a week today before starting 2024 at home to mid-table Wigan Athletic on New Year’s Day.

Collins said: “The game on the 23rd makes it a really tall order. We are fortunate we have strength in depth.

“Our fitness coaches and sports scientists do a good job to control what we can control.

“Every manager will be weighing up how to approach these four games.

“It’s a big challenge but we will take the first game first then go from there.

“Saturday, Tuesday is normal but then it’s the Friday, Monday.”

Will Collins rotate his side regularly through the four games?

He told the Chronicle: “It’s tough to say we will definitely rotate heavily.

“Hopefully we will get good results then you want consistency, but we also want to keep players fit for the future.

“If you’re winning in games you can take players off and it helps if they play 60 minutes as opposed to 90.

“We just have to take each game as it comes but, if I was a squad player, I would be thinking that I want my opportunity because four games in ten days is tough.”

The 12 points available could be vital in Barnsley’s promotion push.

Collins said: “You sometimes play four games in a month, sometimes three. We won’t have time to think. It’s important the players do the basics well then we have a good chance of some points.

“The players have done ever so well to put us in this position. We all feel it could have been better but, based on the new arrivals and changes we have had, we have done ever so well in a tight league. Whatever happens in the next four games, there will still be a lot of football to play.”

Collins will experience festive football for the first time since leaving England in 2016 for Florida where they do not play at this time of year.

“Had I been sitting in America watching, I would be quite jealous.

“It’s nice on Christmas Day but, on Boxing Day when you see the fans out in force, it’s part of the reason I came back.

“From this point moving forward, there is a lot of excitement and a lot to play for. We came back for those challenges.”

Barnsley’s home game with Bolton Wanderers has been arranged for Tuesday, March 5.

The original match was called off due to international call-ups for the Trotters.

The Reds still have a match at Oxford United to rearrange.