Keith Hill admitted after Saturday’s 5-1 mauling at Brighton that he felt like he had been ‘dealt a low blow to the groin area’.
The pain in that particular part of Hill’s body must have eased despite Tuesday’s 3-1 Capital One Cup defeat against Swansea City – for the Barnsley boss at least got a response from his team that he had called for.
But the injury-plagued Reds have conceded 14 goals in their four away fixtures so far this season – many of them preventable – which is clearly something that has to be addressed.
Many supporters felt that the Reds rearguard needed a revamp during the summer, with fans wanting at least one no-nonsense centre-back brought in to bolster the squad.
Hill was unsuccessful in his pursuit of Brighton captain Gordon Greer, having two bids rejected by the Seagulls, but no new signing was forthcoming until the Reds chief managed to recruit free agent Martin Cranie following his release from Coventry City.
Cranie came off the bench for the games at both Wolves and Brighton, before making his first start against Michael Laudrup’s Swans on Tuesday night.
But Barnsley’s early-season woes on the road have already heaped pressure on the management and players to deliver the goods at Oakwell.
They did so in some style on the opening day of the Championship season, overcoming much-fancied Middlesbrough 1-0 thanks to a Craig Davies strike and a terrific, all-round team effort.
Now they have crucial home clashes with in-form, free-scoring Bristol City on Saturday and then current table-toppers Blackpool the weekend after the international break.
We are not yet out of the first month of the 2012-2013 season, but already the clash with Derek McInnes’ Robins this weekend is taking on ‘crunch clash’ proportions. The Reds need to add to their three-point tally.
Yet Hill cannot call upon his first-choice team, due to the horrendous injury situation that has enveloped the Oakwell outfit in recent weeks.
Stuck on the sidleines are the likes of Luke Steele, Mido, Toni Silva, Jim O’Brien, David Perkins, Paul Digby, Matty Done, Reuben Noble-Lazarus and Rob Edwards.
Perkins is battling to be fit for Saturday, but the indications are that he will not feature.
He and some of the others are hoping to be fit for the Blackpool match on September 15, but players like Mido, who is recovering from a ruptured hamstring, are set for a longer absence.
So Hill and his assistant David Flitcroft need backing, not brickbats.
They are, in effect, battling to mould a team to try and pick up Championship points with one hand tied behind their backs.
They have no money to spend it appears, despite the Oakwell Club having sold Ricardo Vaz Te to West Ham United for £500,000 in January and Jacob Butterfield to Norwich for a reported £1m-plus in the summer.
And they appear to be looking round for free transfers and loan signings while the Oakwell hierachy, by all accounts, intend to spend £100,000 on a new scoreboard at the ground. I’m sure most supporters would prefer to see a new £100,000 centre-back than a new scoreboard……
And today Blackburn splashed out an astonishing £8 million on a Championship striker, Huddersfield’s former Barnsley youth team player Jordan Rhodes.
In turn Huddersfield are looking to spend some of that cash. Around £500,000 of it may go on ex-Oakwell ace Adam Hammill from Wolves.
Saturday’s visitors to Oakwell, Bristol City, have just forked out £1m for striker Sam Baldock from West Ham.
Money is being spent in large quantities in the Championship. But not by Hill at Barnsley. Sadly, the Reds just haven’t the financial capability. That’s no criticism on anybody, just a fact of footballing life.
So Hill and Flitcroft don’t deserve the early-season flak that is coming their way. Not yet anyway.
Make no bones about it, retaining their Championship status is pretty much the be-all and end-all for Barnsley this season.
If a good run in the FA Cup doesn’t detract the Reds from that target then that would be welcomed too, both from a finance and sporting point of view.
But finishing away from the relegation zone would be deemed another successful season for the Oakwell Club.
And to do that Barnsley need their best players fit and available, and they require a solution to their rocky displays on the road.
At least four points from the next two home fixtures would be a big help.
Come on you Reds!