BARNSLEY boss Lee Johnson has blamed the 'restrictions' of Michael Smith's loan deal as a factor behind the on-loan Swindon Town ace not hitting the goal trail at Oakwell.

Without revealing the terms of Smith's move north, the Tykes manager made the suggestion that the 24-year-old was not made available for Barnsley's Johnstone Paint Trophy games.

Without those games it was more difficult for Smith to earn his place in the starting XI and as a result his 89th-minute substitute appearance in Monday's 4-2 win over Blackpool was his first appearance since mid-November.

Barnsley had the option to sign Smith permanently following the conclusion of his loan period in the January transfer window. However, the forward's lack of form has led to Johnson not taking up the option and instead the striker is returning to the County Ground.

“Michael will be going back to Swindon,” Johnson told BBC Sheffield.

“We had a pre-set transfer but he hasn’t played probably as much as he would have hoped and, again, a little bit due to circumstances.

“There were times when he would have started, in JPT games and stuff like that, and he was unable to because of the restrictions on the loan.

“You never know, in a different scenario it might have been different had he played in the JPT and banged in a hat-trick, you keep the shirt and then you continue on that path.

“But he was very in and out and some of it due to circumstance.”

Meanwhile, a loan signing departing the County Ground is Wes Thomas as he returns to parent club Birmingham.

The forward scored twice in his six appearances, however, with an excess of loanees in Swindon Town’s squad he was the player to be sacrificed by Martin Ling following Town’s 5-1 defeat away to Fleetwood.

“He’s still training with us and for someone that has not been involved at all, he’s kept his head to be fair to Thomas,” said Martin Ling in his last interview.

“But he’s only got another six days and he’ll be going back.”