Realistic Barnsley manager Hill concentrates on beating drop ahead of Championship play-off bid

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The memory of a troubled opening to their campaign in the unpredictable Championship is enough of a restraint to ensure Keith Hill will not be getting too far ahead of himself.

Not that the Barnsley chief is a ‘glass half-empty’ kind of manager.

His chest still swells with pride at the thought of a four-game winning run that has taken his Barnsley side up to eighth, two points off the play-offs, and within striking distance of a sustained promotion challenge.

But far from sizing up potential play-off opponents, Hill is all too aware of how quickly it can change.

After all, one point from the first three games was enough to give the Oakwell boo-boys cause to test their vocal chords.

And even a run of solid draws in September in a division in which they are perennial underdogs, were not enough to placate the nay-sayers. But after four straight wins, the Barnsley fans may finally be buying into Hill’s footballing ethos.

“We’re 10 points off the bottom three,” was, however, his quick response to a prompting in the post-match press conference following Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace that the Reds were just two points off the top six.

“Sometimes you’ve got to look at it that way in this league.

“It’s unforgiving at times, when you look at how some teams have plummeted.

“I was looking at the league table this time last year after 19 games and Coventry were in the top four (they finished 18th).

“So that’s how unforgiving the Championship can be. We don’t take anything for granted, there’s no arrogance in our assessment of games, where we are, what we’re trying to achieve. We want to get to 50 points as quickly as we can, because that keeps you in the league, and then we’ll see where we are then.”

Barnsley drew their opening game of the season at Nottingham Forest but there was no honeymoon period for the new manager as his side lost at home to Southampton and Middlesbrough in the league and to Morecambe in the Carling Cup.

“I just remember the first three games of the season,” said Hill. “The pressures that I felt during those first three games will always remind me of how difficult the Championship is and managing in it under a little bit of an exaggerated expectancy level.

“I’m really pleased with the run, to have collected 30 points after 20 games.

“The confidence in the squad is high and we’re really looking forward to the Ipswich game (Oakwell, Saturday) and beyond.

“That 10-point cushion from the bottom three takes a little off the pressure off. We’re looking forward with great anticipation.”

The Reds have confirmed that Goran Lovre has left the club by mutual consent.

Midfielder Lovre joined the Tykes from Dutch club FC Groningen in the summer of 2010. He made 23 appearances and scored two goals during the 2010/11 campaign.

However, the Serbian has not featured for the club this season and has left Oakwell before his contract was due to expire in the summer.