Barnsley FC's Michael Duff on Liam Kitching, selection posers and the one thing that really pleased him at Exeter City

BARNSLEY head coach Michael Duff has lauded visiting Reds supporters for a 'really pleasing' reaction to Tuesday night's humbling at Exeter City - and feels it augurs well for the key run-in.

The Oakwell outfit suffered their first defeat in 13 matches in a 3-1 defeat on a night when victory would be boosted their late-season charge for a top-two finish.

Despite Duff's side going home with nothing to show for their efforts at the end of a lengthy round trip to Devon - for the third time this season, taking in the late postponement at Exeter in January and loss at Plymouth Argyle - the response of the Reds following at St James Park left him enthused.

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At a critical time of the season when many games are invariably tense and players and supporters need to stay united to give the best chance of success, Duff was suitably heartened.

Michael Duff. Picture: Bruce RollinsonMichael Duff. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Michael Duff. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Speaking ahead of the home game with Morecambe, he continued: "Hopefully they will be and the reaction of the fans after the (Exeter) game was really pleasing because most of the time when you get beaten, you walk over to the fans and pay your respects and get a few verbals on the way.

"Tuesday night was pretty contained. I am not saying we enjoy that. But I think the supporters understand that the supporters are giving everything.

"The supporters have been brilliant and the players as well. I thought the supporters were good on Tuesday and the players - not quite so. It's a hand in hand relationship and always a two-way street.

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"I think there's a good feeling around the place at the minute.

"But it is hard to win a game. You look at Sheffield Wednesday at 2-0 down (at Cheltenham), but to be fair, their supporters stuck with them and they ended up fighting back in.

"I don't know if it was the (Owls) supporters or the players - I am not really interested as it is not my team. But our supporters have been really, really good - particularly post Christmas and we want to keep giving them performances and hopefully they keep turning up and cheering."

Liam Kitching should be available for the weekend game, despite suffering a knock to his knee in midweek, with Duff having to decide whether to freshen up his side after events in the south-west.

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He added: "There's a few bumps and bruises. Kitch has had a bang on his knee, but we think he will be fine. Other than that, I don't think there is anything too serious that I have been made aware of."

On the concept of making changes, with the likes of Max Watters, Slobodan Tedic, Josh Benson and Luke Thomas being options to start with, Duff said: "They are the (alternative) options we have got. "Whether we do or not, I don't know as I have not got so far as picking a team yet. Even the subs who came on did not affect it as they have done. Sometimes, you just get that feel.

"It is not an excuse, but it's a long way to go (to Exeter). Look at Plymouth's home record, it's probably one of the reasons why they have got such a good home record and such a poor away record. It is a factor. You do everything you can to try and prepare properly and we left on Monday and it was a long day sitting around.

"You try and get the lads up and around, but for some reasons, we weren't quite at it. We will have a look."

Jon Russell will be assessed following his return from international business with Jamaica.