JOSE MORAIS has made an impassioned plea for Barnsley’s players and fans to provide a collective cure for the club’s homesickness – to give the Reds the best chance of securing their Championship status.
The Reds’ poor Oakwell form has reached crisis proportions and they head into tomorrow’s encounter with visiting Millwall on the back of a 10-match winless streak.
It is a problem that Paul Heckingbottom and the current Reds head coach have wrestled with – and while Morais has no magic solutions, he is calling for a stronger psychological mindset from his players to help achieve it.
A proliferation in the number of draws at Oakwell this season suggests that Morais’s point is a valid one, with the relegation-threatened Reds having proved deficient in failing to see out a number of games, including Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City.
The mood was understandably flat after yet another game without three home points was registered in midweek, with the Oakwell faithful having seen Barnsley triumph just three times in the league on home soil in the past 14 months.
Anxious to create a change of mindset and environment quickly, Morais, whose side are on a run of three successive home matches, with Lee Johnson’s Bristol City also due on Good Friday, said: “I think I would like to see my team believing that this is our home and in our house, we are the owner of our space.
“So we have to play with this confidence so that here, we get what we want.
“I would like to transmit this confidence from the team to all our supporters in order to see the crowd screaming for the names of the players with joy and happiness for the performance and the result.
“The happiness to play at home is because we have our family so close, we want to use this power to be an extra power and this is (then) an advantage to play at home.
“I am expecting the fans to give us this advantage from the beginning.
“This strength, power and belief is what I want to ask the fans to give our players. What we all want is a team to make us proud.
“I want the fans to give us the extra power that we can have at home, which is the support of our real family.
“We love and want to win for them.”
Meanwhile, Morais is sweating over the fitness of key midfielder Joe Williams ahead of tomorrow’s encounter.
I would like to transmit this confidence from the team to all our supporters in order to see the crowd screaming for the names of the players with joy and happiness for the performance and the result.Barnsley boss, Jose Morais
The loanee is suffering from a back issue and will be assessed ahead of the visit from the in-form Lions.
The Portuguese also revealed that Matt Mills is still sidelined with an ankle injury and is not sure when he will be back in the fray for selection again.
Mills has been sidelined since the home game with Burton on February 20, with the defender having played just three times for the Reds since his move to the club at the end of the January transfer window.
Morais said: “I am expecting to have some updated reports. “What I know is that Williams has some pain in his back. But it is (getting) better and he rested all day on Wednesday.
“I do not think that there are any other (fresh) injuries from what we have had in the past weeks and the other players are in condition to train.”
After a couple of decent cameos from the bench in the Reds last two outings, Stevie Mallan boosted his case for selection for a starting spot from the off against Millwall, with the Scot displaying threat when he entered the fray against both Norwich and Middlesbrough.
On the prospect of that, Morais remained coy, adding: “Stevie is a player like anyone else who will be on the pitch when the moment allows. If he is not starting, it is because, for the moment, I think that other players should start.
“But Stevie is a valuable player and when the game requires his quality of him, he will be on the pitch