Barnsley put contingencies in place as Johnson closes on Bristol City job

BARNSLEY have confirmed Tommy Wright and Paul Heckingbottom will take charge of Barnsley for this Sunday's league game as Lee Johnson continues to speak to Bristol City about their vacancy.
Barnsley head coach Lee Johnson. 
Picture: Jonathan GawthorpeBarnsley head coach Lee Johnson. 
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Barnsley head coach Lee Johnson. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The Reds, who booked their place in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final on Thursday night, granted their manager permission to speak to the Robins this morning.

Johnson, a former player at Ashton Gate, is wanted by the Ashton Gate hierarchy to lead the club’s fight for survival in the Championship.

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A Reds club statement said: “First team training on Saturday and preparations for the game on Sunday will be led by Tommy Wright and Paul Heckingbottom. We would like to thank supporters for their patience and assure them that they will be updated as soon as there are any further developments.”Earlier in the day, Barnsley - who as of yesterday morning are understood to have had no approach for their manager - granted Johnson permission to speak to the Championship club.

At the time, a statement from Oakwell read, ““If Lee decides to stay with Barnsley Football Club we will be delighted. But if he chooses to move on, we will continue unabated with the plan we have in place for the progression of our club”.

Barnsley’s subsequent confirmation that Johnson’s coaching staff will take charge of Sunday’s League One clash with Bury suggests things have moved on again.

Johnson, 34, who does not celebrate his first anniversary in charge at the club until later this morning, refused to be drawn on reports linking him with the Robins earlier this week - but did not rule it out.

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Speaking on Tuesday, he said: “I am not even going to give it the time of day. It’s the betting market.

“We have got a huge game on Thursday and nothing will take away from that focus.

“It’s betting. Until anything changes, then there is no decision to make anyway. I am really happy here.

“We have turned it around and are flying and have potentially a Wembley final if we win this (Fleetwood) game and we kick on.

“I have just got to focus on the game. I don’t think you can rule yourself in or out of anything until you know the circumstances.