The head coach, who spoke to the media for the first time this summer yesterday, is working with the board and recruitment department to construct a squad for the Championship. The Reds have lost two of the linchpins of last season’s side as Stoke City this week announced a double swoop for goalkeeper Adam Davies and centre-back Liam Lindsay. Asked about the future of the other star centre-back Ethan Pinnock, Stendel said ‘we need to keep him’.
But when pressed on whether he was confident Pinnock and other players who have attracted attention from elsewhere would remain, he told the Chronicle: “You need to ask people other than me. I will try my best with the players that stay here and all other things are not my decision.” He added: “The biggest thing we can do is keep the players from last season.”
The signings of Danish centre-back Mads Andersen and Austrian goalkeeper Sami Radlinger have followed the earlier arrivals of another ‘keeper Brad Collins and winger Luke Thomas. Stendel said he was pleased with the arrivals but wanted to add to the centre-backs, of which Pinnock and Andersen are the only senior players, and wingers.
Stendel said: “We need to have three or maybe four centre-backs in the squad and, on the wing, we want to do things. We are looking at every position because we don’t know at the moment if all players will stay with us.”
Stendel is an admirer of Leeds United’s 20-year-old winger Mallik Wilks who scored 15 goals on loan to League One Doncaster Rovers last season. He has been linked with a move to Oakwell along with club-mate Aapo Halme, a 21-year-old Finnish centre-back.
Stendel said of Wilks: “I think he is a very good player. When I look back at the games against Doncaster they were very difficult games and he was one player who did very well against us. We have some good players in our heads who we can sign. We will see what we can do.”
Barnsley have one of the youngest squads in the EFL, and Stendel would like to bring in players who are more used to the Championship. He said: “The club has a philosophy to sign players that can improve and have potential but we need some more players who have experience.
"The Championship is a tough league with a lot of teams who have been in the Premier League. None of our new signings have played much in the Championship and it is a very different league for foreign players to come into. We have improved players so much last season but it’s easier to do that in League One than the Championship.”
Stendel is halfway through a two-year contract and, while the club are keen to extend the deal, he is focusing on pre-season and the completion of the squad. He said: “I am very happy here. It was all new last season but I had so many good experiences. We achieved our goal of promotion.
“I want to improve the players and myself and experience a new league in the Championship. I want to concentrate first on getting a good squad for the Championship then we will look at everything else.”
Wales international Davies, who played 209 games in five years at Oakwell and captained the side to promotion last season, joined Stoke on a free transfer after his contract expired. Scottish centre-back Lindsay was bought by the Potters for £2million in a deal which could rise to £2.5million.
Stendel said: “I would be more happy if they stayed but the decision was the other way. They were a big part of our 21 clean sheets and only 39 goals conceded. Maybe players in our squad can improve but it is not easy to replace those players, especially our skipper Adam Davies who played a long time here and got two promotions. But the situation is what it is and we will do our best to replace them.”