KEITH Hill is confident his Barnsley squad are ready for the difficult fight ahead as they try to haul themselves up the Championship table.
Reds’ boss Hill has seen his team beaten in their last three league matches and is understandably concerned that his struggling side have won just one of their last eight matches.
But key players Jimmy McNulty, Jim O’Brien and Matty Done are all back in the first team fold having recovered from lengthy injuries, a welcome boost to Hill and the rest of the Reds’ squad at a “difficult” time for the club according to the manager.
“We’re facing difficult times, but it’s times like this that you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and fight,” said Hill ahead of this afternoon’s home clash with Yorkshire derby rivals Huddersfield Town.
“It’s going to be a tough season, but it was always going to be a tough season. But I’ve got a lot of belief in the squad and the work we’re trying to do at this football club.
“I’ll try and protect the players as long as I’m getting justification from them. However, I can’t protect them if they’re not doing it for me and I won’t do that.
“I’m brave enough for people to be firing the bullets at me, but the players have got to expect a certain type of pressure in their performances.
“In the main the players have been fantastic. They’ve been honest but unfortunately one or two mistakes have had a massive influence on results.
“But I’ve got to trust the players we’ve got and we’ll see ourselves through this season.”
The Reds host the Terriers today without leading scorer Craig Davies, influential midfielder David Perkins and promising youngster Paul Digby.
The trio are all injured, but Hill has faith in his players - although he does still want a couple of new players to freshen his squad - that they will soon turn the corner after a testing couple of months.
“I’m not trying to create this ‘breaking point’ that I might get sacked, but it’s a reality that if results don’t improve then that could happen,” added Hill. “There’s got to be a release of pressure - and that’s only going to come with getting good results.
“I definitely think 50 points will keep you in this division, it’s definitely achievable.
“We’ve got to see a clear vision, the ‘impossible dream’ if you like of retaining our Championship status [this season]. And then we’ve got to keep building.
“It will take a lot of bottle, but that’s going to a re-occurring theme for the remainder of the season.”
The Reds last played the Terriers in May 2006 and they registered a 3-1 in League One. The visitors’ last away win at Oakwell came four days earlier, a 1-0 win with the two sides having played each other twice int he space of five days.