BARNSLEY will look to ‘recharge’ during a 12-day break from action and will work in training on ways to hold onto a lead better after shipping four points from winning positions this week.

The Reds are sixth in League One, returning to the play-off places on goal difference after ending 2023 with a 2-2 draw at high-flying Peterborough United on Friday then starting 2024 with a 1-1 draw at home to lowly Wigan Athletic on Monday.

They are unbeaten in eight league games – winning four and drawing four – since a 3-0 defeat at Derby County on November 11, their only loss in 14 since September.

Collins told the Chronicle: “It’s better to be in the top six than not.

“We have games in hands on the teams around us. It’s certainly an opportunity for us.

“If we take points per game for the last 20, we are on about two points per game which would put us third or fourth.

“The players are showing a good level of consistency, picking up results.

“We just need to continue to get better.

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“We play games in hand in January. We play teams around us.”

Barnsley led 3-0 at half-time at Port Vale on Boxing Day then scraped a 3-2 win before losing a 2-0 lead at Peterborough and conceding a late leveller to Wigan.

Collins told the Chronicle: “We’re always looking to get better.

“We need to work on being dominant when we are ahead. Against Peterborough, Port Vale and Wigan we were ahead and can deal with it better.

“But it’s a tough league.

“We went 3-0 up at Port Vale, then they beat Blackpool 3-0. We were very very good at Peterborough then they won at Derby. We’re all guilty of saying: ‘we should beat them and beat them.’

“We don’t maybe pay attention to the results other top teams have.

“The players are doing well but the good thing is we all know there is more in there.”

The Reds are not in action this weekend as scheduled hosts Oxford United made it through to the FA Cup third round whereas Barnsley were ejected for fielding an ineligible player at Horsham in the first round.

They were due to have some days off following Monday’s match then return to training at the end of this week.

Collins said: “I am sure the players will feel this break has come at a good time.

“We would really like to be in the FA Cup.

“But we have spoken about that and dealt with it.

“It does allow us to recharge at the halfway point and get ready to attack the second half of the season with lots of big games.

“The players deservedly get some time off.

“Their attitude and approach has been really really good.”

Barnsley next play mid-table Bristol Rovers at home a week tomorrow, January 13, and then host third-bottom Carlisle United the following Tuesday.

They visit Stevenage on January 20 and Oxford in the rearranged game three days later – with those clubs currently either side of Barnsley in seventh and fifth respectively.

January’s games are completed with a home match against Exeter City, now in the relegation zone, which will be the fifth fixture in 14 days.