Barnsley FC: ‘It has been a challenge’ as Martin Devaney looks to end on a high

FOR a caretaker head coach, taking over a struggling team is one thing.

Being asked to lead a side who are mentally scarred following a desperate season which has culminated in a grim relegation is quite another.

That’s the situation that Barnsley interim boss Martin Devaney has found himself in after being entrusted with taking the Reds immediately after their demotion to the league below was confirmed.

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It has been hugely challenging, but Devaney, 41 – still in the relatively early years of his coaching career – will learn plenty, for better and worse, from the experience.

Barnsley caretaker manager Martin Devaney. Picture: Keith Turner/Barnsley FC

He said: “When you take over this sort of role, it is never an ideal situation. It is usually one where you are fighting against relegation and you have games to work with the players.

“This is something different where you have been relegated and it is about how you can improve the team over the next two or three games when mentally they are down and out.

“It has been a challenge, but I have enjoyed it. We have got an away game on Saturday and we will take it from there.”

Depleted Barnsley – who have finished at the bottom of a table for the first time since 1965 – are down to the bare bones and likely to field a very inexperienced side in their final game of an awful campaign at West Brom tomorrow.

Their injury count is likely to extend into double figure territory.

Mads Andersen and Remy Vita add to an absentee list that already includes Michal Helik, Brad Collins, Aaron Leya Iseka, Romal Palmer and Aapo Halme, with loanees Domingos Quina and Amine Bassi also not involved.

Callum Brittain is a doubt along with Devante Cole and Josh Benson, and Carlton Morris is also unlikely to feature.

Herbie Kane has returned from a season-long loan spell at Oxford United, having sustained a ‘bad’ groin injury late on in his spell there according to U’s manager Karl Robinson.

Speaking on Thursday, Devaney said he was unable to elaborate further on the extent of the problem.

On his threadbare options for the trip to the Hawthorns, Devaney commented: “I have to make sure the lads who play are organised and ready.”

Former Reds captain Alex Mowatt misses out on a reunion with his former club through injury, with ex-Barnsley loanee Daryl Dike also sidelined.