LEE JOHNSON admits he is facing a loan conundrum following the arrival of Joe Wildsmith.
The capture of the young Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, set for his debut at Ashton Gate today in place of the injured Adam Davies, has taken the Reds’ number of loan recruits to seven, with just five allowed in a match-day squad.
With one loan signing, Peter Ramage, also back fit again, it represents a dilemma for the Oakwell head coach and he says he will have to make some tough calls. “I am happy with the squad, but what I am not happy about is having seven loans. It makes it awkward now and we will have to leave players out of the squad, not necessarily on merit.
“The fact is you can only get five in a match-day squad, so that part of it is not ideal. But, in general, our loan players have been fantastic and done very well.
“It will be interesting; sometimes I will have to jostle and some players will be very unfortunate not to be involved. It won’t be down to form, but the rules really.”
Head coach Johnson acknowledges that his newest recruit in Wildsmith will face a ‘big ask’ if, as expected, he lines up against the division’s strongest side at Ashton Gate this afternoon.
The England Under-20 custodian says he is not daunted by the prospect of making his bow in front of a parochial Ashton Gate crowd and Johnson is confident he will rise to the occasion and take it in his stride as most aspiring young players would.
Johnson added: “It’s a big ask, but there’s no better time to ply your trade and show everybody what you are about than at the business end of the season.
“Young players need a chance and he’s a young player who we believe needs and deserves his chance.
“There will be some great games coming into and there will probably be 15,000 on Saturday and it’s a good time for him to come in and let’s see if he has got the minerals.”
Wildsmith debut is due to not only Davies (abductor) being out injured but also Ross Turnbull (back) injured. Wales Under-21 goalkeeper Christian Dibble is expected to be on the bench.
Manchester United loanee Ben Pearson is back after illness and Josh Scowen (hamstring) could also return into Barnsley’s midfield. Paul Digby is ruled out, but Peter Ramage is back in the fray.
Last six games: Bristol City WWWDWW, Barnsley WWWWDD.
Referee: M Brown (East Yorkshire).
Last time: Bristol City 5 Barnsley 3; February 23, 2013; Championship.