DANNY WILSON may be far too savvy to predict that Barnsley can still gatecrash the League One play-off party come May, but he is sure upon one thing.
Namely that his Reds side, who have flattered to deceive for parts of a season for which the phrase ‘work in progress’ is wholly applicable, have had their blip, whereas plenty of others have not.
Wilson is confident enough to venture that several higher-ranked League One rivals will experience that during the edgy final climatic months of the campaign, with it being the job of Barnsley and others to capitalise.
The statistics have not made for particularly pleasing reading for Barnsley this term, but a few are starting to stack up in the right direction, especially after Tuesday’s win over Oldham.
That was their fourth league victory on the trot at Oakwell and second in succession in League One for the first time since November 14, with the upshot being that while the Reds may only be in 13th spot, they are only four points off the top-six.
Wilson’s sensible pragmatism amid the winter grind in opting for experience at the back has helped yield home victories over the Latics and Port Vale to move his side away from potential trouble at the other end of the table.
With top-scorer Sam Winnall also now back on deck, along with the likes of Martin Cranie and Peter Ramage, Barnsley’s collective unit looks strong once again with the team ethic, organisation, work rate and nous showing through against Oldham.
If they can continue to get the job done more often than not in the next few months, who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Wilson, whose side were in 19th spot before the win double at Oakwell, said: “If you are always fearing the worst, then you will possibly get the worst. But we have a group who are fantastic and good lads.
“With the talent they have got, the longer they play together, they will get better.
“Whether they will win all the games coming up is arguable. But I can see us putting together a run of five or six wins out of seven or eight games and that would put us in a great position.
“We have had our blips. But there are a lot of teams in the middle and the top end of the league have not had it yet. Who knows what can happen.”
Ahead of the crucial Oakwell double-header, Wilson spoke openly about the Reds needing to ‘man up’ and don their combat gear and scrap their way out of the bottom six.
Yes, the last 180 minutes may not have been pretty, but they have been effective and a case of mission accomplished.
The contribution of a battle-hardened back four of Cranie, Ramage, Jean-Yves M’Voto and Lewin Nyatanga in holding firm in achieving that has been considerable, but Wilson is also quick to pay tribute to others.
None more so than recent signing Josh Scowen, whose industry and persistence summed up Barnsley on Tuesday night, deservedly earning him the man-of-the-match accolade.
Confident that Scowen will prove a firm Oakwell favourite, Wilson said: “I think he will. He’s committed and a little pocket dynamo.
“He’s not scared and gets his head in things for a little fellow and has a great spring.
It is something you don’t expect when you first see him He can also pass it too.
“I thought Scowen and (Ben) Pearson gelled very well together and Conor (Hourihane) and Milan (Lalkovic) worked their tails off.
“I think that defensively we have also been outstanding in the last couple of games. I don’t think it is any coincidence with the senior boys coming back that we have been able to do that, with all due respect to the young boys, who have contributed really well.
“But in this part of the season, it is a tough old league and you want your experienced players out there as much as you can.”
Meanwhile, Wilson has revealed that the club came close to successfully concluding a couple of deadline-day moves, but remains hopeful that he can do some business in the emergency loan window which opens early next week – with several targets having to re-evaluate their sights.
He added: “The emergency loan window may be another avenue simply as the players we went for didn’t get another club.
“With all due respect, I think they maybe wanted higher and bigger clubs. When it doesn’t come, we can step in during the emergency window. If we can do a bit of business then great.”
While Wilson retains confidence about his hopes of adding to his numbers, he is equally adamant that those currently not in the first team will still get their chance to impress. But he also issued a clear warning.
“We have got some good players who were not on the bench or in the squad,” he said. “They will still play a major part between now and the end of the season.
“Disappointment can’t be there. We want people who are very much committed and ready to go into the team when needed.
“If anyone throws their dummy out, they will not play – simple as that.”