Barnsley boss Johnson praises returning Williams and new arrival Long

Kevin Long, who has arrived on loan at Barnsley from Burnley. Picture: Steve Ellis.
Kevin Long, who has arrived on loan at Barnsley from Burnley. Picture: Steve Ellis.
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Barnsley winger Ryan Williams is back on the training ground with no negatives to report, according to manager Lee Johnson.

Williams returned to Oakwell this summer on a permanent basis after a successful loan spell last season, in which he played five times in the league.

However, the Australian winger has only been able to make a single appearance for the Tykes after suffering a grade two groin tear in early August.

That appearance came on September 12 against Swindon Town, but Williams was forced to withdraw from the game after only 29 minutes.

Johnson has previously referred to the psychological impact that the injury has had on the 22-year-old, suggesting that the mental side of fitness was causing him issues.

However, the Barnsley manager was clearly delighted to have Williams back in training ahead of Saturday’s game at Oldham.

He said: “Hallelujah, Ryan Williams is back on the training ground – he’s had two days of training with no adverse effects. That’s a real positive.

“He’s clinically fit now, he’s certainly lung fit, and it’s just that match fitness now, and that sharpness. That’s a real positive for us. Even if it’s from the bench for 10 or 15 minutes, he can be a match-winner.”

The Oakwell club have been handed another boost with the addition of Kevin Long from Burnley on a 28-day loan.

Johnson says: “He’s a centre-half, he’s going to be playing centre-half for sure. He’s in there to compete. We’ve conceded too many goals, so he’s come in to shore up that back-line.”

Johnson is hoping to avoid equalling an unwanted club record tomorrow of nine successive league defeats.

When asked about what a win would mean, he said: “There’s no doubt that it’s massive, isn’t it? We need it, I need it, you need it, everybody needs it. It’s hurting.

“We have to go into the game willing to take that. You can’t sit back, rest up and hope something will happen. Players have to go in with the mindset that they can change the game.”

That added pressure could not come in a more difficult situation for Johnson, with the League One match against former club Oldham.

Despite saying that internally his departure was amicable, there was significant animosity directed at Johnson from the fans on Barnsley’s last visit.

He admitted: “It’s a compliment in one sense. That pantomime baddy is always there in football.

“If you’re getting that stick as a player, it means you are a good player. It does not necessarily mean that as a manager. However, I think any sting aimed at me will take it away from the players.

“I’d rather shoulder that than the players, so bring it on.”