Peterborough United players are working on Christmas Day as they prepare to take on quality opposition and the manager talks transfers

Ryan Tafazolli (blue shirt) could return to the Posh side on Boxing Day.
Ryan Tafazolli (blue shirt) could return to the Posh side on Boxing Day.
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Peterborough United manager Steve Evans has warned his players to make a huge improvement or expect a second duffing of the season at the hands of Barnsley on Boxing Day.

Evans rates Barnsley as the best team he’s seen in League One this season even though they didn’t kick on as predicted after whacking Posh 4-0 at the ABAX Stadium at the beginning of October.

Jamie Walker (blue shirt) should be back in the Posh squad for the game at Barnsley.

Jamie Walker (blue shirt) should be back in the Posh squad for the game at Barnsley.

Barnsley are sixth, but will move above fifth-placed Posh with a win at Oakwell on Wednesday (3pm). Posh are defending an unbeaten run of 11 games in all competitions after a disappointing draw at home to Walsall on Saturday (December 22). Posh delivered a performance that confirmed Evans’ belief the squad needs strengthening in the January transfer window.

Posh are preparing thoroughly for their Boxing Day game. They will train on Christmas Day morning before travelling to Barnsley later on that day.

“We have to give ourselves the best chance of getting a result from a very tough fixture and that means working on Christmas Day,” Evans stated.

“We will be facing the best team I’ve seen in League One and they have a strike force in Kieffer Moore and Cauley Woodrow as good as anything in the division.

“It goes without saying we will have to improve on what we saw on Saturday. We keep getting praise for our unbeaten run, but we are drawing so many games I feel frustration more than pride.

“I hope the fans don’t think I have pickled onions for eyes. I see what they see and like them I was frustrated by a poor performance. Character got us a point which is more than we deserved against a Walsall team who played very well.

“One or two players at least put a shift in and Conor O’Malley stood up really tall in the second half, but the rest were awful. We were awful in central midfield and awful out wide, but the performance did at least confirm we have a squad that needs help. I know we signed a lot of players in the summer, but it was always likely to be the case that some wouldn’t make the step up.

“We are not far short of being a top team in League One and the chairman and (director of football) Barry Fry know my feelings and I know they will act accordingly.

“All the promotion challengers, with the possible exception of Portsmouth, will strengthen their squad so it’s important we do.”

Evans hopes to have centre-back Ryan Tafazolli back on Boxing Day. He missed the Walsall game with a groin strain. Jamie Walker should also be back in the squad after recovering from a deep cut on his leg.