Valerien Ismael provides fitness update on Barnsley FC trio

BARNSLEY head coach Valerien Ismael says that defender Liam Kitching could be in his match-day squad for the first time in Saturday’s final game of the Championship league season at home to champions Norwich City at Oakwell.

Kitching is yet to feature since his arrival in January from Forest Green due to a groin injury, but featured for the Reds’ under-23s against Cardiff City on Monday.

Meanwhile, Ismael confirmed that midfielder Herbie Kane will again miss out, but remains hopeful he will be available for his side’s play-off campaign, which begins on Monday week.

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Kane, who joined the club from £1,25m from Liverpool in October, has been sidelined with a ankle problem sustained in the final training session ahead of the home game with Sheffield Wednesday on March 20 and has missed the club’s last seven matches.

Valerien Ismael.

Dominic Frieser, who has missed the last two matches with a hamstring issue picked up in the derby win at Huddersfield Town on April 21, is available again this weekend.

Ismael said: “Herbie made part of the training (on Thursday), so he has taken a step forward. But the (Norwich) game is too early for him and we hope he can join the squad next week. That is the plan.

“LIam Kitching is good and has trained well. He played last Monday with the under-23s and played 45 minutes and we are very delighted that he is back.

“His response after the game went well and he feels really good and he has trained again with the team and he could be another who is available for the squad (against Norwich), we will see.

“Friesy will be in the squad and available and everything is in plan and he came back in the middle of the week. He made all the tests and has trained since Wednesday with the team and nothing is wrong. We are delighted we have one (forward) option more.”

Ismael has pledged that he will not be resting players to keep them fresh for the play-offs, despite little riding on their final match of the league season against the Canaries, managed by his good friend Daniel Farke.

He added: “We want to prepare for the (play-off semi-final first leg) game and need to stay in the rhythm. It is important for the guys, that is the first thing.

“The second thing is that we have enough time between the games and we are a team whose players need to stay in a rhythm and I think we have seen so far that it works very good with a focus on how we play and we don’t want to change too much.

“The guys need to find a rhythm ahead of a new competition.”