Barnsley's interim coach Martin Devaney and player Luca Connell say Neill Collins’ sacking this week was a shock but they are focusing on reaching the play-offs tomorrow.

Collins was dismissed with a game remaining in the season, which the Reds need to win against Northampton to guarantee a place in the top six.

Devaney, who was Collins’ assistant, said: “As a colleague, I worked really well with Neill this year and it’s always disappointing to see a friend lose their job.

“It was a decision made by the club and I have been asked to take this really important job. It is a shock to the players but it's football and they have to focus on the game."

Midfielder Connell added: “It was a massive shock to everyone at the club. It is never nice to see anybody lose their job after working that close day to day. The CEO put a message in and told us going to happen then we all saw it on Instagram.

“It’s more than fair to say we let him down in recent weeks but we also did him proud in other games. It’s easy to point fingers. We will look at ourselves and I am sure the gaffer will look at himself as well.

“I don’t think anyone can put their finger on it. If had we had lots of injuries, or the playing style had changed, you could look at that. But we’ve just hit bad form. We need to react and secure play-offs.

“With the three teams behind us, it’s as simple as win in play-offs, if we don’t we won’t be.”

On the recent poor form, which has seen Barnsley collect nine points from 11 games, Devaney said: “It’s football. It’s disappointing. You always set out to win but you’ve got 11 players trying to stop you.

“We fell short in certain moments and spells. With the run we were on, pressure builds because there’s an expectation.”

Barnsley need to beat Northampton to guarantee a place in the top six. If they don’t win, they could be overtaken by Lincoln, Oxford and Blackpool then finish as low as eighth.

Devaney said: “It will be different. My plan is to play more forward, in their half, more crosses, little bit more direct. I know what the club expects and what has given us a lot of success. Without the ball we will be high-pressing and counter-pressing.

“Other games are not entering my mind. It doesn’t concern me. Our focus is winning.

“I have told the players to expresses themselves. They are three games away from Wembley and four from promotion.

“The stands are full and that’s what I expected. The fans have been fantastic with me in the 19 years I have been here.”

Asked about his future as coach, going into the play-offs or next season, Devaney said: “My focus is Saturday. That’s all I am concerned about.

"It’s unusual. You never know what’s going to happen in football.

“You never know when you will be asked to guide a team. It’s a club so close to my heart. I know how important it is to fans and everyone.”

He added: “I have got ambitions but my full concentration is on Saturday and putting on a good performance.”

Devaney has been working this Jon Stead who was Collins’ other assistant having also came over last summer from the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

“Jon has been great. He’s helped the last few days. He’s been positive.”