Reds aim to take advantage of breathing space

It is late in the season and he is in the middle of a tense relegation battle, but David Flitcroft is 
relieved that he can finally get back to doing some work on the training ground.

Life has been pretty much non-stop for Flitcroft since he succeeded Keith Hill in the new year with eight instances when the Reds have followed up a Saturday game with a midweek encounter.

The last three weeks have been the most intense, with Barnsley always in action just days after a Saturday game.

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Now, though, with three games left to secure their survival, Flitcroft has a bit of breathing space with today’s trip to Nottingham Forest followed by Saturday games with Yorkshire rivals Hull City and Huddersfield Town.

“When I first took over we spent a lot of time on the training ground shaping and moulding the team,” explained Flitcroft.

“The last four weeks or so it’s been game, recovery, game, recovery, so it’s been difficult to re-emphasise what you are doing on the training ground with shapes and systems etcetera.

“We can go back to that now over the next two weeks, so we’re looking forward to planning the next two weeks.”

Barnsley reached the 50-point mark with Tuesday’s draw against Derby, a target which in most other years would be good enough for survival.

Indeed, Barnsley escaped the drop last year with 48 points, albeit helped by Portsmouth’s 10-point deduction for going into administration.

This season, though, has been a lot tighter at the bottom, with the teams battling survival playing to the standard of a team chasing a spot in the play-offs in the second half of the campaign.

Barnsley have been no exception, picking up 29 points from 18 games under Flitcroft, who believes the unpredictability is due to an increase in quality.

“The prize to get to the Premier League is massive, the pressure has never been greater, and possibly the pressure to avoid dropping out of the League has never been greater.

“With financial fair play coming in there’s a different dynamic and it’s added real competition and I think the top teams have been surprised by that.

“The quality has gone up; just look at the likes of Craig Bellamy at Cardiff and the money that Leicester are paying.

“Plus, the fighting teams have done something about their predicament earlier than usual. It’s worked for Peterborough, it didn’t work for Bristol City.

“Every team has been striving for consistency except Cardiff City.

“And that tells you everything about the strength and the spirit down at the bottom.”