Barnsley: Go and enjoy derby day against Sheffield United, urges Reds boss Johnson

Barnsley boss Lee Johnson.
Barnsley boss Lee Johnson.
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Reds boss Lee Johnson would love to be playing in tomorrow’s eagerly anticipated derby showdown with Sheffield United.

But Johnson would settle for a victory on home turf at the expense of putting his boots back on.

Johnson, now retired from playing, retains that youthful enthusiasm for the game.

And he wants his players, who are chasing an impressive tenth game in a row unbeaten, to enjoy themselves it what is expected to be the biggest gate at Oakwell so far this season.

“It’s a massive game on Saturday,” admitted Johnson. “But the boys are ready, they’re up for it and fortune favours the brave as Del Boy says. They’ve got to enjoy it.

“There’s no point choking now, it’s about enjoying what should be a brilliant atmosphere and show everyone what we’re about.

“I want the players to come off the pitch with no regrets and to be proud of their performance.

“It’s a great fixture and one that makes me want to put my boots back on.

“I’m really looking forward to the game. We’ve got to go into with no fear.

“We’ve come off the rails to be where we are and I think the players will be in confident mood.”

But Johnson is also experienced enough to know that the Reds won’t get an easy ride against their fellow promotion-chasers, even though they did beat them earlier in the season thanks to a goal from striker Sam Winnall.

“Make no mistake, we’re playing a very good side with a good manager who knows the division,” stressed Johnson. “It will be really tough, but we’re up there [in the table] on merit and we would really like to close the gap on them.

“A victory over them would really set us up for the end of the season. It would mean we could drag them back into our little pack.

“If the bookies were going to give you a price, then I reckon you’d get a fair one. And I think that would be right because both teams have been doing well.

“I don’t think any team is going to romp away with it, it will be a tight game.

“Both sides have got players in their teams who can introduce individual brilliance, so touch wood it will be us on the day.

“We’ve just got to keep going. People are going to be jostling for positions, so we have to make sure we’re one of the teams who are getting wins. At least some positive results.”

Mason Holgate is available for the weekend having returned from injury, but Paul Digby remains sidelined. Adam Davies has returned to training but is not 100 per cent fit, so Johnson is likely to stick with Joe Wildsmith between the posts.