Barnsley: Selection dilemma for Johnson

Barnsley boss Lee Johnson.
Barnsley boss Lee Johnson.
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Reds boss Lee Johnson admits he has a headache to shuffle his pack with seven loan players at his disposal.

But Johnson would rather have healthy competition for places at this crucial stage of the season with the resurgent Reds gunning for a play-off place.

A fine nine-game unbeaten run sees Johnson in an understandably confident mood ahead of his first South Yorkshire derby showdown with Sheffield United on Saturday.

Victory over the Blades at Bramall Lane could see the Reds move back into a play-off spot and close the gap between the local rivals to just two points with six games remaining.

“It’s a problem having seven loan players, but it’s a good headache to have,” said Johnson.

“But I have to make difficult decisions and some players will have to miss out, even though they probably haven’t done anything wrong. It’s something I’ll definitely have to address for next season.

“There’s definitely work still to be done before it’s a Lee Johnson team. Defensively we’ve been pretty sound, but there’s always room for improvement.

“We’ve just got to keep improving and that’s what I’m always looking for.

“It’s those marginal gains which make the big difference.”

Reds defender Lewin Nyatanga, who has scored five times this season – the most goals he has scored in any season as a professional – has stressed the hard work must continue if the club are going to sneak a play-off spot.

“In football things can change very quickly, so we probably didn’t think we’d be up there challenging for a play-off spot,” admitted Nyatanga. “But we know that we’ve got to keep our heads down, keep working hard and concentrating on the job in hand.

“We’ve just got to keep going and not think we’ve cracked it yet, especially because we’ve got a lot of tough games left.”