Barnsley FC: After ‘dark days of January’, Tykes eye brighter times

POYA ASBAGHI is urging Barnsley to take heart from their recovery after ‘the dark days of January’ as their season reaches crunch time.

The Reds face arguably their biggest match at Oakwell since the Nottingham Forest fixture in the penultimate round of action in the ‘Great Escape’ campaign of 2019-20 at home to relegation rivals Reading on Saturday.

With eight games to go in the Championship season, the fourth-from-bottom Royals are five points above the Reds, who occupy the final relegation place and the stakes are sky-high this weekend.

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Providing a bit of perspective, head coach Asbaghi said; “There were dark days in January, not only with the results.

Barnsley's Cauley Woodrow. Picture: Tony Johnson

“We also had over 12 injuries in that period and we do not have the same depth in the squad as other teams. It was pretty tough when we are looking for victories.

“Even when we lost against Sheffield (United), we could think: ‘Hey, we are still in a situation where if you compare it to January, it is nothing.’

“If we can overcome January, we can overcome this situation now.’

Captain Cauley Woodrow will again be missing tomorrow, but he is progressing well in his rehabilitation from knee surgery and could feature later this month.

With Barnsley’s fates on the line in April, Asbaghi acknowledges that he may have to use the striker when he is not 100 per cent fit in the weeks ahead.

He added: “I don’t know if I need to gamble. Let’s just say that even though he is a player who does not feel 100 per cent in his timings, he can still be a player who can contribute.

“Maybe not for 90 minutes or even 70 minutes, but for some part of the game as he still has some characteristics that are still important for us.

“Not only about his leadership, but football abilities. I am hoping there is a scenario where we don’t have to gamble, just a scenario where he is fit enough to contribute for Barnsley.

“I follow his rehabilitation day by day and he has been super-professional and it is that which gives him a chance to contribute in the last couple of games.

“With the same scenario and injury for another player, it is not 100 per cent certain that they would make it back before the end of the season.”