Gerhard Struber wants to add one player each to his attack, midfield and defence during the January transfer window.

The head coach has already said that he hopes to sign experienced players during the window which opened on Wednesday, as the Reds look to increase the average age of one of the youngest squads in the EFL. He is hoping to improve the defence, which has been the problem area this season, as well as the midfield where he has been playing a diamond system and potentially the forward line by adding competition for top-scorers Conor Chaplin and Cauley Woodrow.  

Struber told the Chronicle: “I think we need one player in the last line, we need one player in the diamond and maybe one player in the offence. If we get those three players, it will be a good transfer window. It is the right time to change things a little bit.” 

Asked if he would recruit players he knows from his native Austria, or if the recruitment department would bring them in from England or other countries, Struber said: “They could be from anywhere in the world. “I think we need players with quality and we need the right players. We have no stress, we are not thinking ‘tomorrow we need players’. I trust this team. 

“I have a clear plan of what we need and my owner and also Dane (Murphy, the chief executive) knows this plan. We create this in the right time. We are looking forward with a good feeling that we can buy or loan the players we need.”

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Barnsley have not signed a loan player for two years, but Struber says that may now change.  He said: "This is always an individual situation, depending on the player. Maybe it is better to loan or to buy. If the transfer fee is right, we can buy but, if not, we can loan which is a good option.”

Struber is also keen to keep his star players such as strikers Woodrow and Chaplin as well as captain Alex Mowatt. Last night, Woodrow was left out of the squad for the defeat at Derby County and is expected to be out for two or three weeks. 

He said: “I am very calm. Every player who we want to stay will stay.  It is normal when someone like Conor is scoring goals nearly every game that other clubs have a view of him.  But, for him, it is good to have a good rhythm. It is good for him to play every week for his development. If he changes club, maybe he won’t play. It is not always right, after some good weeks, to change club. 

“For all these players, they play every game at Barnsley which is the most important thing for a young player.  We have an aim together with this team and this staff to stay in this league.”

The Reds are looking to reduce the size of the squad by offloading players who are not in Struber’s plans.  Asked if one of those to go could be summer signing Mallik Wilks, who has not played under Struber, the head coach said: ‘maybe, yes’.  One possible option for the 21-year-old is a move to Hull City where he could reunite with manager Grant McCann under whom he impressed with Doncaster Rovers last season. 

Others who have struggled for gametime recently are full-backs Dimitri Cavare and Dani Pinillos as well as winger Mamadou Thiam and midfielder Cameron McGeehan. Struber said: “Players who have no gametime, we will speak with them and decide what is best for them. Maybe we will loan them or sell them.”

Struber has enjoyed 2019, in which he completed his UEFA pro license coaching course, managed in the Europa League with Wolfsberger and then moved to Barnsley in November. He said: “I think it was a special, special, special year with good decisions. I learned an unbelievable amount this year. I learned from my players and from other coaches. Now I have the chance to work in England which is completely different to Austria.

"In Austria, the games are tactically better than the Championship and there is more influence from the coaches. But, in the Championship, the quality of the players is higher and they influence the game more than the coach. I am a little bit surprised by this.  It is a very interesting year in 2020. We have big aim to stay in the Championship.  It is a challenge and I have a big motivation. I have a good feeling with my team, I trust them and they trust me and my plan.  “My staff work very hard and, in the end, we will achieve our aim.”