LEE JOHNSON believes that Barnsley only now have a ‘five per cent’ chance of making the League One play-offs – but is refusing to give up the chase.
After turning their season around completely by way of a superb nine-match unbeaten run to inspire talk of extending their season, Easter losses to Sheffield United and Colchester have provided a reality check to the Reds.
Heading into this weekend’s home encounter with sixth-placed Chesterfield, Johnson’s 11th-placed side trail them by seven points, with the Oakwell fixture a must-win for the hosts.
If the Reds do require inspiration, the fact that four of their last five games are against play-off aspiring sides in the Spireties, Peterborough, Bradford and Rochdale remains an opportunity to claim points on their rivals.
While a top-six finish is a long shot, Johnson is keeping positive.
On his side’s top-six prospects, Johnson said: “It’s a slim chance. I’d probably give it a five per cent chance if I am honest.
“It was a disappointing Easter weekend for us and in the big picture, it was a couple of games too far. It was very difficult to keep that sustained run going.
“This (Chesterfield) game is now our first cup final if you like.
“We all get sucked into that dream, rightly so. It’s my job to keep selling that dream and of course, we want to finish strongly and we can still do it.
“There’s no way I will give up, but suddenly things can change. If we get to Tuesday night after two wins, we will all be thinking about it again.
“Now at the moment, I can feel people are half-settling for next season and thinking: ‘next season, we will have a right go.’
“We will. But let’s not forget about this season yet because Saturday is a big game.
“Look at how the picture changed over the Easter period and it is going to change again and it is going to change in the next three or four days for sure.
“Let’s hope we are the ones changing it.”
Defender Lewin Nyatanga, who picked a nasty eye cut on Monday, will be assessed ahead of the Spireites text with the Reds set to make a late decision on the defender.
Former Oldham boss Johnson said: “We’re hopeful, although it’s not definite because he got a nasty cut to his eye and it really did close up.”