Barnsley boss Hill looks for improvements against Portsmouth

Jimmy McNulty on the ball from Dean Marney.
Jimmy McNulty on the ball from Dean Marney.
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BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill believes his side are capable of competing alongside teams such as Leeds United and Leicester City in the Championship this season, but his men will have to do better than their performance in Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Burnley.

Goals from Jay Rodriguez, his 18th of the season, and Charlie Austin gave the Clarets a comfortable victory against a Reds side whose performance Hill called a “sackable offence” and “shocking”.

He said: “If we had been in the bottom three then I may have been getting a phone call tonight. The previous 10 managers of Barnsley have had that call.”

The loss was Barnsley’s second on the spin and leaves them 16th in the table and 12 points off the play-offs.

Hill will be hoping his men can bounce back against struggling Portsmouth at Oakwell today (kick-off 3pm) and keep pace with the mid-table sides he believes his men should be going toe-to-toe with this term.

“We’re constantly evaluating, seeing where we need to be,” he told Express Sport before Tuesday’s game.

“Where we’re at at this moment in time probably represents good value for money and we can still make an impact on the teams above us.

“If you look at the teams slightly above us, who are Crystal Palace and Leicester and then Burnley and you’ve got Derby County and Leeds.

“They’re all in catching distance, we’re not looking backwards in any way, shape or form and we do believe that we should be at least rivalling those teams.”

Hill will hope the signing of former Swansea City and Sheffield United winger David Cotterill will aid his ambitions for this season.

The Welsh international was on-trial with Leicester City before the Foxes snapped-up Ben Marshall from Stoke City instead.

That paved the way for the Tykes to move in and sign Cotterill on a deal until the end of the season.

Hill said: “He came down last week to visit us under the radar and had a look around the training facilities.

“He actually watched us play against Leicester because he was due to sign for Leicester up until them signing Ben Marshall. It gave him the freedom and us the opportunity [to sign him].

“He comes with a good knowledge of the Championship, has experience and it’s a no-brainer.”

Cotterill wasn’t included in the Reds squad on Tuesday night but he’s set to be included for the visit of Pompey this weekend.

Jim O’Brien returned as a substitute at Turf Moor but Stephen Dawson is still “about two weeks” away from making his Reds debut.

Hill has highlighted the need for his side to tighten up at the back if they’re to move up the table and he’ll be looking for defensive improvements to start this weekend.

“The only thing I can be critical of this season to this point is the amount of goals we’ve conceded,” he said.

“We’re comparable to the top ten teams for goals scored and that’s what give us our advantage over the teams who are in the bottom three or four.

“We’re out-scoring them probably double at times but our goals against column isn’t pleasing. It’s something we can alter long-term and we need a strategy to do that.

“We score enough goals to win games and that will continue over the next 17 [games].

“We’ll pick up the points that we need to at least maintain our safety in this division.”

Hill also used Monday’s press call to air his commitment to Barnsley following reports linking him with the Leeds United manager’s post.

He said: “I‘m here to do a job, we chose to come to Barnsley in the first place, we’re more than happy.

He added: “The Leeds job is Neil Redfearn’s and my job is [at] Barnsley and managing this football club to make sure we ensure at least our Championship status, but we want to aim for a lot more than that.”

See this week’s Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express for all the latest sports news from around the area.