Barnsley FC interim boss provides updates on his players ahead of play-off semi-final first leg against Bolton

BARNSLEY interim manager Martin Devaney has stressed that there has been a’real positive vibe’ among players this week ahead of their League One play-off semi-final first leg against Bolton Wanderers at Oakwell, despite uncertainty surrounding the head coaching position and form issues heading into Friday night’s game.
The Reds, who had won only twice in their previous 12 regular league games, stumbled into the play-offs, with Neill Collins paying the price for his dismal form when manager was fired on April 22.

After identifying Austrian-born head coach Dominik Thalhammer as the man they wanted to replace Collins on a permanent basis, the Oakwell club moved rapidly to sign him.

However, earlier this week, the 53-year-old, a former coach at Bruges and Ostende, among others, claimed that work visa concerns had terminated his chances of taking over, in an embarrassing incident for the club.

Devaney, who took charge of last weekend’s final-day tie with Northampton Town and has been holding the fort since Collins’ departure, said: “There was a lot of pressure on last week’s game, but we finally did what we wanted to do, which was get into the play-offs. It was a goal achieved and completed.

“This week, there has been a great nice attitude among the players, and the strain has been alleviated a little.

Barnsley FC boss Neil Collins on a big injury blow for Donovan Pines, but  positive updates on Robbie Cundy and Fabio Jalo
“On the training pitch, there’s been a fantastic vibe.

“It’s two cup games, that’s how we have to approach it, and the regular season is over, so it’s two important games before Wembley.

“It’s down to all of us as a collective to try and get two positive results.”

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Jon Russell is a possible starter for Friday’s opening leg, although Robbie Cundy and Josh Benson are unlikely to play.


Donovan Pines is making good progress after surgery and is expected to return in time for preseason.

Devaney added: “He’s had the operation, so he won’t be fit for the play-off games. I believe the injury is improving every day and I am sure with the off-season and break that he will be ready for pre-season.

“Jon Russell could be in contention, he’s trained this week and has looked okay. Everyone else (available) is fully fit and raring to go.

“They have trained all this week and obviously need minutes. They will possibly be in convention, we will have to wait and see.

“They have missed a lot of football this year. Robbie has had a long-term injury and Josh has been in and out and been really unlucky. For the magnitude of this game, it might be a little bit too much too soon. But they have certainly trained well and shown a really good attitude.

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