There are now eight days until the Reds begin the Championship season at home to Fulham on August 3, and five more before the summer transfer window closes. With the summer arrivals now in double figures, they almost have two senior players for nearly every position, but are still looking to strengthen if possible. The Reds are understood to be considering recruiting at left-back, where they currently have Dani Pinillos – who is just returning from injury – and 20-year-old Ben Williams.
Dale Tonge, assistant to Daniel Stendel, said: “There is still work being done in the background. We’re hoping there may be more incomings in the next few days. We don’t need many. There are a couple of specifics that the management staff and recruitment staff have highlighted. If that happens, then great, but if not we will be happy with what we have got.”
With 26-year-olds Kieffer Moore, Pinillos, Sami Radlinger and Kenny Dougall all missing parts of pre-season with injuries, 24-year-old Cauley Woodrow has often been the oldest player in friendlies this summer. The average age of the squad is 22 while eight of the nine new faces to arrive this summer are that age or below. Only a handful of Barnsley’s players have played in the Championship. Tonge said: “We want to add a little bit more experience, either at the Championship level or a higher level abroad. We look for younger players and we still will, but we want players with experience.”
Despite interest in players such as last season’s 19-goal top-scorer Moore, new chief executive Dane Murphy said last week that the Reds will not sell any more this summer following the departures of their star centre-backs Liam Lindsay and Ethan Pinnock. Tonge said: “We expect Kieffer to stay. We have not had any new interest in him. The club we are, we will always get speculation for our best players. It’s something we can’t control but, from our point of view, until the player actually leaves all we can do is work with that player.”
The players most likely to leave – probably in loan deals – are those on the fringes of the squad such as striker Victor Adeboyejo, winger Dylan Mottley-Henry, goalkeeper Jack Walton and central midfielder Jared Bird.
Tonge was pleased that most of the ten new signings came in early in the summer, before the pre-season trips to France and Germany. It was the main aim to get players in early, knowing we would go away a couple of times. It’s a massive thing for us. We have had a lot of time together as players and staff. We even had a group outing plane-spotting on the beach in Nice, which was organised by one of the staff members.”
Several of the new arrivals this summer have never played in English football before, having joined from overseas clubs. Tonge admits the coaching staff’s lack of previous knowledge of some of the players found by the recruitment department presents challenges.
“It’s difficult but it’s the due diligence the club do and the philosophy the club works with. They don’t just get anyone, they get players they think are ready. The language barrier isn’t a problem because they all speak very good English. The added bonus is that they are all good footballers
“Stability is a tough word in football, at any club. We have had success even when we haven’t had stability. It’s up to us as coaching staff to get the players ready for the season and to understand what the gaffer wants. Over pre-season, they are starting to do that. It’s been quite easy. The players are buying into the gaffer’s style and the philosophy of the club brilliantly and working really hard.”
Tonge has been helping Stendel bring in players this summer. He said: “I have been involved in player recruitment, speaking to a lot of agents. The gaffer has given me a broad brief because he knows I know players at this level and understand the league. It’s been a good learning curve and the gaffer has given me really good advice. My missus isn’t too happy about it because it’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it.”
Tonge is hoping Barnsley make a strong start in the Championship following promotion. He said: “We’re just going into the season to win as many matches as we can. The gaffer has a ‘no fear’ attitude and wants to win every game. We understand that, if we impose our game, we will be a threat to most teams. We all understand the teams we will play are a lot better calibre. We will have to change and adapt in certain games but our style of play won’t change.”