BARNSLEY head coach José Morais speaks to Dimitri Cavaré on a daily basis about controlling his “aggression” after admitting goalkeeper Nick Townsend is out for the rest of the season with a broken finger following an altercation between the team-mates.
The revelation is hardly ideal preparation for the relegation-threatened Tykes who host Sheffield United tomorrow and adds to Morais’ growing problems.
The Portuguese has won just once in eight games since replacing Paul Heckingbottom.
Townsend, who has played eight times this term and largely been second-choice keeper, joined from Birmingham City in 2015. He started in the 2-0 home defeat to Millwall on March 17 but was not included at all for their next fixture, the 2-2 draw with Bristol City, due to the injury.
Initial suggestions were that the 23-year-old had fractured a hand after reportedly hitting French full-back Cavaré during a training ground bust-up.
But Morais yesterday confirmed it was a finger that was broken. When asked if he did that punching Cavaré, the manager said: “If I should tell you what really happened it was a duel between two players that resulted in one finger break.”
Morais was asked what it said about the atmosphere at the South Yorkshire club – currently five points adrift from safety with just two wins in their last 25 fixtures – if players’ tempers were so fraught.
“Fantastic, I would say,” he replied, ahead of tomorrow’s crucial contest at Oakwell.
“If I could give a pair of gloves to both of them and say ‘come on, start the fight’ and they have a fair fight I would say yes.
“If this can result in better team play I would say fantastic.
“If this can give us the opportunity to work in terms of having a better atmosphere I’d say the result was good and this is what we’re having.”
However, having tried to downplay the incident initially in yesterday’s press conference, he returned to it later to speak in more detail about Cavaré, the 23-year-old full-back bought from French club Rennes last summer.
When asked if he also wasn’t in the side’s previous squad due to the incident, Morais said: “The last game that we didn’t play he was in the squad [referring to Easter Monday’s postponed fixture at Nottingham Forest].
“(But) talking about Cavaré – and I want to be completely honest with you – I think Dimi Cavaré is a player that has quality.
“He has a lot of quality potential. He’s an aggressive player and a powerful player and he has qualities that I believe can help us. The way he probably uses this aggressiveness and this power in a certain moment wasn’t the way that he wanted to use these powers. And because we are a team with young players, they need to learn there is a different way for them to use qualities they have.
“We are in a moment where we can speak about dedication. But we also need to do not only the right things but also the things that are needed to be done for us to reach our goal – without forgetting principles that allow us to stay together as a team.”
Cavaré was sent-off against Fulham in January following a needless second yellow card for a petulant shove on an opponent.
Barnsley were leading 1-0 at that point just before the break, but saw chances of a rare win disappear as their remaining 10 men eventually lost 3-1.
Morais was asked if he had spoken to the player to see if he understood the need to channel his aggression in a better way. He said: “Yes. This is my work. I’m doing this every day.”
However, he then hinted at earlier deficiencies in the squad that he took over following Heckingbottom’s surprise decision to join Leeds United in February.
“As you know, the team since the beginning of the season, has not been consistent,” he said.
“Why? It’s not because of the fight between Cavaré and Nick in the training as if things were done in a good way in terms of preparation of this team I don’t believe this kind of fight (happens).
“I think this kind of fight wasn’t supposed to happen in a team with good team-building since the beginning of the season.
“So what we wanted and what we needed to have at this moment was a team with a lot of solidarity, with players that are looking into each other’s eyes and are saying ‘I trust you man, come on, let’s go’.
“And this is what I’m looking for in the team. And the time that I have is probably not the time I want to have for this to really happen in a way that you can see.
“Not only this behaviour but also the result of the performance and one of the main things is that we don’t have this from the beginning. This is the reason why we haven’t been consistent and this is what we are changing.
“And the players are changing. They are making an effort. I see and I feel it (positive results) is very, very close to happening.
“We have seven games to go and believe we can reach our goal.”
Matt Mills is closing in on a playing return but will not be ready tomorrow although Mamadou Thiam (ankle) has a chance.