Barnsley fan Wilky gives us the lowdown on his side's form coming into Saturday's game with Reading.
How would you describe your season so far?
Very successful. From being the perennial favourites for relegation, Hecky and the lads have perhaps overachieved on any expectations so far. That’s not say that our results and league position is not deserved. We’re still well placed and providing that we can bed in any new recruits and manage the remaining fixture schedule with our best eleven, we have every chance of making the ‘business end’ of the season as exciting as the last.
How did fans react to selling three key players over the January window?
In general, players like Hourihane and Bree have left the club with our blessing. Aston Villa have invested a decent amount in securing their contracts and have treat Barnsley FC with respect. Albeit despite the shenanigans of their owner and Steve Bruce in the media. On paper, these are common sense moves and will potentially help both lads in securing international caps.
On the other hand, Sam Winnall to SWFC will always be contentious. Some may point to the fact that other incoming activity at S6 will not bode well for the player and leave Winnall spending long periods on the bench. Others will always feel you simply don’t move to Swillsbro’ from Oakwell. Above all else, his departure was leaked on Twitter on the same day that ‘Mr Barnsley’, club stalwart and legend, Norman Rimington was laid to rest. Out of respect, the club operated a self-imposed media blackout on the day, during a rabid period of rumours in this last transfer window. SWFC, his agent and Winnall should have behaved better.
Do you still think the play-offs are achievable
Of course. We’re only 4 points from sixth spot. There are countless other teams who are destined to remain in the Championship and many others who will still be worried about securing their spot next season. We’re still looking up.
Reading won 2-1 at Oakwell towards the start of the season, what did you make of us that day and from what you've seen since?
Overall, Reading showed they were resolute and a well organised team. With just ten men on the pitch, we found it impossible to make a breakthrough and get at least a draw out of that encounter. Whoever scores first might dictate the outcome when we meet again. Reading seem to have a good habit of simply getting the right result.
Any Barnsley players we should be worried about?
Admittedly, there has been some turbulence on the first eleven, caused by the January transfer window. We will be looking to other faces for the right rhythm and adventure in the players we have. Adam Armstrong can be unplayable at times, but hasn’t hit that rich vein of form just yet. Ryan Kent can be explosive down the wing and probably has more goals in him. Marley Watkins would be my pick of the lot this Saturday. Traditionally, we’ve played him down the wing but will be looking for him to take over the role vacated by Sam Winnall.
Anyone from Reading that worries you?
John Swift is a real talent and is destined for the very top in my opinion. I saw him at Swindon Town a couple of seasons ago and has already amassed a significant number of games and goals in the football league at the tender age of 21. If we can keep him quiet and they likes of McCleary, we may have one foot in the game this Saturday.
Finally, give us a score prediction.
The Reds will nick a valuable away win by a small margin. Maybe 0-1, or 1-2.