Neill Collins says he is as proud as he has been as Barnsley head coach after a 1-0 win at fellow top six side Oxford United – while admitting Callum Styles is close to leaving.

Styles was not in the squad and is thought to be close to a move to Championship Sunderland, on loan with a view to a permanent deal. Collins said: “The club are in negotiations with another club.”

In terms of incomings, Collins said: “The club is working very hard that we have squad strength and the ability to challenge. I believe we will sign players who can make us stronger for the rest of the season.”

The Reds won through a first half own goal, then showed character in the second half despite some key injuries.

Collins said: “I am exceptionally proud, probably as proud as I have been in my time at Barnsley. For a number of reasons. It was very difficult conditions.

“Obviously what happened at the weekend with the game being off, injuries, and illness. I am so proud of the togetherness of the team.

“At times we haven’t seen games out well and we were playing into the wind. But I thought we were very comfortable and professional in the second half after being excellent in the first.

“An away win against anyone is difficult but Oxford have been in the top six all season so it’s excellent.

“When you consider the players we have out it’s a massive win.”

Luca Connell missed the game through a stomach bug, then Adam Phillips and Herbie Kane came off with ankle and hamstring problems respectively. Collins said he expects all three to have a chance of playing on Saturday.

“Guys like Jon Russell should take a lot of credit. He has had to be patient after a good start to the season. I have preferred Luca in the team.

"His patience has paid off. The way he’s trained showed in his performance as it did with the substitutes who came on. The starting 11 has been consistent but we needed everyone tonight.

“It shows the strength of character. Corey O’Keeffe went in midfield and just did a job. He has been working hard to cement his place n the team. His fitness levels are good. He plugged a gap. Hopefully we can get some bodies in there, it’s a strong area but right now we’re looking a little light.”

The Reds are fifth but only four points off top with a game in hand. Collins said: “We’ll just try to win as many games as we possibly can. It’s a very tight league. You can be as quickly outside the play-offs as you can be top. Hopefully we do enough to be in one of the top spots.”

Defender Mael de Givegney added: “It was a really important game against a good team who are also fighting for promotion. I am really happy with the result it was a really tight game in tough conditions.

"I am very happy with the clean sheet because it is the first one for a long time.”