Barnsley boss Lee Johnson knows back-to-back victories over the Easter break could put his ambitious side in a commanding position in their charge for a play-off place, writes Neil Goulding.
But Johnson also knows defeats to Sheffield United today and then Colchester United on Bank Holiday Monday could effectively end the resurgent Reds’ hopes of claiming a sought-after top six spot.
“A couple of wins makes the difference between the men and the boys, but if it’s a couple of losses then it’s [our play-off chances] are bye bye,” admitted Johnson.
“There’s still a lot to play for, but a couple of wins would put us in a great position with five games to go.”
Johnson’s side are eighth in League One, just one point behind sixth-placed Chesterfield and a place in the top six.
And they go into this weekend’s home clash with local rivals on the back of an impressive nine-game unbeaten run.
The Reds have also only conceded four goals in their last nine league fixtures, so it’s understandable Johnson has belief in his side’s ability to finish the season on a high.
“I have faith in the squad, I really do,” added Johnson. “We have got a decent squad and we have got players not too far off the ones that are currently starting, so it gives me the option of changes.
“It’s just a case of staying true to what we believe and rotating the squad when we need to that. I’m paid to make the difficult decisions and that’s what I’ll do.
“The players have been first-class since I’ve come in. Their application to training has been first-class, listening to instruction and delivering that in a game,” praised Johnson.
“It’s easy at the moment because I haven’t had a loss yet, but at the same time you do recognize the signals.”
Meanwhile, star striker Sam Winnall has praised Johnson for the belief he’s shown him since he’s come back from a troublesome hamstring injury,
“The gaffer has been brilliant even since he’s come in,” revealed Johnson. “He just said to me get myself fit and gave me the re-assurance I needed.
“It can be a bit nerve-racking when a new manager comes in, you’re injured and you’ve not been playing.
“But he’s shown a lot of faith in me and allowed me to concentrate on getting back fit, first and foremost, and then getting myself back in the side.”
Winnall added: “We’ve looked at the fixtures and it’s on our hands whether we get that play-off place.”