The key quotes from Valerien Ismael ahead of Barnsley's trip to Blackburn
Barnsley's Valerien Ismael will look to bounce back from midweek defeat when he takes his side to Blackburn Rovers. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images.

Barnsley travel to in-form Blackburn Rovers this weekend looking to put a midweek defeat to Brentford behind them and continue their very positive start to life under head coach Valerien Ismael.

The Frenchman, who has won four of his first six matches in charge, spoke the media ahead of a tricky away trip to Lancashire on Saturday afternoon.

On Blackburn 

Barnsley come up against a Blackburn side who made a strong start to the season and are now back on a four-match unbeaten run, including an impressive 3-0 win over neighbours Preston North End on Tuesday.

“They’re a very good team, with a clear philosophy,” acknowledged Ismael. “They are very strong in transition, so we need a good defence.

“We know their strength but we know where this team is vulnerable, so we want to use this tomorrow to put this philosophy into a high-intensity game. We want to enforce our gameplan.”

On threats 

Blackburn are the Championship’s top scorers this season with 25 goals, 13 of which have come from Adam Armstrong, who tops the individual standings.

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However, Ismael says that he is not focusing specifically on Armstrong, who played a season on loan at Oakwell in 2016-17, as their threat comes from the whole squad.

“He’s a very good player, like many in the Championship,” he said. “That’s why the focus is not on him, it’s on the transition game.

“I know some German guys who play for Blackburn and they are very good. That’s why we try to find a complete solution to give to the guys tomorrow on the pitch.”

Those players from Germany, where Ismael has spent the majority of his coaching career thus far, include former international midfielder Lewis Holtby, on whom the coach said: “He’s a key player. He played for Werder Bremen and I knows he’s a very good technical player. It’s a very good team.”

On tactics 

Ismael’s side, like the iterations of Barnsley under previous coaches, are particularly noted for their high press, though they adapted their tactics in the defeat to Brentford to respect the quality of the opposition on the ball.

Only two sides have had more possession on average in Championship matches this season than Tony Mowbray’s side, but Ismael says that he expects to have more of the ball at Ewood Park. “It depends on the opponent but tomorrow I think we will have more situations where we are in possession than against Brentford,” he predicted.

“You have to accept in some games that the opponent is better in possession so you have to find a solution out of possession. This will be another game, both teams play with high intensity, a lot of counter press, quick transitions. I think we will have more possession situations.”

Ismael also revealed his biggest concern defensively ahead of the game, saying: “The first big quality of this squad (is) lots of running in behind. That’s why we have to protect in behind and do it very well.

“It’s a good challenge for my team do deal with the strength of the opponent, but also to look at our strength and quality. We know what we need to do to score goals against them.”

On injuries 

There is unlikely to be any change to the squad that Ismael has at his disposal in Blackburn, with defenders Jordan Williams and Aapo Halme both unlikely to be ready to return from knocks.

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“Jordan Williams I think will be out for tomorrow,” he said. “Aapo, we want to make a last try for him but I think it will be too early for him. We hope that against Birmingham (on Tuesday) he can come back.

“All the other players are fit and fresh after the day off yesterday,” he added, leaving Ben Williams and Mike Bahre as the only other absentees.

On Simoes 

Ismael addressed the situation with winger Elliot Simoes, who has featured only twice so far in his tenure and has not even been selected in the 20-man squad for the two matches since the international break.

“He is a young player with a lot of quality,” said Ismael, “but he has to understand that to be a player, to be professional you have to be serious in any situation, in his daily work.

“We have to make a decision and for a moment (he is) out. I hope with his performance in training he will show us that he wants to play in the squad.”

Asked what Simoes needs to do, he replied: “Improve his intensity, improve his usefulness in the game. To improve his work out of possession and show more of his quality with the ball.”

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