MARTIN Devaney has been tasked with getting Barnsley into the League One play-offs tomorrow but there might be someone different leading them into the semi-finals if they qualify.

The Reds sacked Neill Collins on Monday morning, following a run of nine points from 11 games – and one from the last five – which saw the gap between them and seventh shrink from ten points to one ahead of the last match.

They must beat mid-table Northampton Town in a Saturday lunchtime kick-off to stay in their current position of fifth and reach the play-offs.

A draw or loss would mean they could finish anywhere from fifth to eighth depending on the results of Oxford United, Lincoln City and Blackpool.

Devaney has been placed in interim charge and has taken training this week, with Collins’ assistant Jon Stead still working at the club.

Devaney is fully expected to oversee tomorrow’s game but the Reds are looking for a new head coach and, if the search is concluded in the next few days and Barnsley finish in the top six, it is possible the new man would train the team all next week ahead of the play-offs.

That may also depend on how the side, under Devaney, performs over the weekend.

Austrian Dominik Thalhammer is understood to be one of the top candidates for the job.

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Reports have claimed that the 53-year-old Austrian flew to England for discussions early in the week but the appointment has been held up by work permit issues.

The Reds have declined to comment but the Chronicle understands he has been in the country and is in contention for the job.

Thalhammer did not play professionally but coached in the academy of Admira Wacker Modling who made him the youngest ever Austrian Bundesliga head coach aged 33 in 2004.

He was sacked a year later and, after a series of lower league jobs, spent nine years as the head coach of Austrian women’s team – taking them to the semi-finals of Euro 2017, their first major tournament, and being nominated for FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year.

He resigned in 2020 to take over from future Reds boss Valerien Ismael at Austrian top flight club LASK Linz but was sacked the following year.

He has most recently managed in Belgium with Cercle Brugge then Oostende, Barnsley’s former sister club owned by Paul Conway and Chien Lee – the ex Reds co-chairmen who still have a stake in the Oakwell club but are no longer on the board.

He left after they were relegated from the top flight at the end of last season.

Thalhammer’s arrival would be a return to Barnsley’s policy under Conway and Lee of appointing overseas coaches, with three coming from Austrian football previously – Gerhard Struber, Ismael and Markus Schopp.

Meanwhile, tomorrow’s game will be one of the biggest matches in Devaney’s 19-year association with the Oakwell club. The former winger, who played 177 games for the Reds between 2005 and 2011 including a promotion through the League One play-offs in 2006 and FA Cup semi-final in 2008, stayed in the Barnsley area and has been a coach at the club for a decade.

He has been a first team coach since Christmas 2021, having previously worked with the under 18s and under 21s, and was caretaker manager at the end of the 2021/22 season – overseeing the final three Championship games after relegation was confirmed and losing all three.

Devaney was also caretaker at the start of this season, including for the first friendly at Worksop Town, following the move of his friend Michael Duff to Swansea City.

He was then appointed as assistant to Collins who was head coach for 45 games before being dismissed with one to play following a 3-2 loss on Saturday at promotion rivals Blackpool who stormed into a 3-0 lead. Collins had become unpopular with large sections of the fanbase, and there were chants for him to be sacked on Saturday.

If Barnsley beat Northampton and finish fifth, they will take on the fourth-placed team – highly likely to be Peterborough United – in the semi-finals on Saturday May 4 from 7.45pm, at home, then away the following Wednesday.

If they finish sixth – which would need them to not win and two of the teams below to also slip up – they will host the third-placed side at 3pm on May 4 before the away leg the following Tuesday.

Bolton Wanderers, who Barnsley beat in last season’s play-off semi-finals, are very likely to finish third.

The play-off final is scheduled for May 18 at Wembley.