Gerhard Struber says Marcel Ritzmaier will be the only player he recruits from Wolfsberger.

The Reds made 26-year-old Austrian midfielder Ritzmaier their first signing of the decade on Monday. Wolfsberger players Michael Novak and Michael Sollbauer have also been linked with a move to Oakwell. Asked if others would arrive from Wolfsberger, head coach Struber told the Chronicle: “No. Marcel is the only one we speak about. He is the right player for us. He can play more positions. At Wolfsberger there are no other players who we are interested in now.”

Kilian Ludewig, 19, joined for the rest of the season from Red Bull Salzburg, having previously worked with Struber in the Austrian club’s academy as well as last season while on loan to Liefering. The right-back is a German under 20 international who began his career with RB Leipzig and has played 28 senior games.

The Reds are second-bottom in the Championship, three points from safety, having won four of their 26 league matches this season. Struber confirmed that he was looking to sign ‘one or two’ more players. He said: “I think we have more new players in the next weeks. We want a smaller squad, more quality in the squad and more experience in the squad. That is what will help us. The player we sign needs the right attitude, character and mentality to stay in the league and the skills for my system.”

When asked about the rumours that Leeds United and Nottingham Forest are interested in top-scorer Cauley Woodrow and captain Alex Mowatt respectively, the Reds boss said: “They stay.” Conor Chaplin, another player expected to attract attention from other clubs after netting eight goals in Struber’s 11 games, has won Championship Player of the Month for December. Struber said: “He has created a good performance in every game and it’s not a big surprise for me that he is in this team. I hope he stays in this team all season.”

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Cameron McGeehan has been loaned out to Barnsley’s fourth round FA Cup hosts Portsmouth for the rest of the season. The 24-year-old midfielder has played 68 games for the Reds since signing in 2017, scoring nine goals, and was a key player in last season’s promotion then captained the side in several games this season. But, under Struber, he has only made two substitute appearances and was left out of the last five matchday squads. Struber told the Chronicle: “He is a very good player. But, in my style, we need players with more activity against the ball and I think he must learn to work against the ball.  “This is very important task for my style and other players in my squad are, in this part of the game, further ahead than McGeehan.”

McGeehan tweeted Barnsley with the message: “Thank you and good luck to everyone (apart from in the FA Cup).” Struber added: “For him, I think it is a good situation for getting gametime. He has been unlucky here to get no gametime. It’s a win, win. Maybe he could come back after the loan and play for us. We will see how it develops.  We will watch him and then speak to him after the season.”

The Reds are hoping to trim several other players from their squad during this month’s window. Winger Mamadou Thiam, who has made more appearances for the club than any current player, and left-back Dani Pinillos – the second oldest in the squad – have both not played since September. Right-back Dimitri Cavare has not been in a squad since November. Struber said: “We have a good squad but we have some players who we speak with and it might be better to loan or sell them. There has been interest in our players and there will be more.” 

The Reds have one of the youngest squads in English football but Struber is hoping to add experienced players. He told the Chronicle: “When young players have all the responsibility to stay in the league, this is not fair. We need a good mix of players with experience and young players – a good mix, not only young players. To have only young players is not good for their development or for our results.”

Struber said of Ritzmaier: “I am very happy with our week and that we have a first new player. He is a player with a big quality and experience which is very important for my team. I hope he can help us on Saturday.  “It is a big point that I know him and he knows my system and my principles. It is a big advantage for my team and for me. He is a playmaker and he can score goals as well. He is a leader.”