BARNSLEY head coach Jose Morais says goalkeeper Nick Townsend is out for the rest of the season with a broken finger - following what he described as a “duel” with a team-mate.
Townsend, 23, has made eight appearances this season for the South Yorkshire club who are five points adrift from safety in the Championship ahead of Saturday’s derby with visiting Sheffield United.
Initial suggestions were that the former Birmingham City stopper had fractured a hand after reportedly punching colleague Dimitri Cavaré in a training ground incident.
But Morais confirmed it was a finger that was broken. When asked if he did that punching French full-back Cavaré, the boss said: “If I should tell you what really happened it was a duel between two players that resulted in one finger break.”
Morais was asked what it said about the atmosphere at the club if players’ tempers were so fraught.
“Fantastic, I would say,” he replied.
“If I could give a pair of gloves to both of them and say ‘come on, start the fight’ and they have a fair fight I would say yes.
“If this can result in better team play I would say fantastic. If this can give us the opportunity to work in terms of having a better atmosphere I’d say the result was good and this is what we’re having.”
Barnsley have won just once since the Portuguese took over when Paul Heckingbottom left for Leeds United.
On team news, Morais added: “Matt Mills is better but he will still be with the physio department for maybe two or three days more.
“Then he will be available fit to train normally. I don’t think he’ll be able to play immediately, though, after six weeks out.
“Mamadou Thiam still has some time and he's doubtful for the next game.
“He’s some ligament in the foot that is a little bit swollen. It wasn’t a punch. It was an incident between two players. It could have been a punch but it wasn’t. It was a tackle that resulted in something. Sometimes incidents happen in training.”