Gerhard Struber has suggested that Barnsley’s 3-0 home defeat to Preston North End on Tuesday and Bambo Diaby’s alleged failed drugs test mean they need more than one new central defender in the January transfer window. 

The Reds brought in 29-year-old centre-back Michael Sollbauer from Struber’s former club Wolfsberger on Friday. Struber had previously highlighted an experienced centre-back as the player who he believes will make the difference between relegation and survival but he would now like ‘one, two or three players’ before next Friday’s deadline. The Reds’ performance in midweek infuriated the head coach, who saw centre-backs Mads Andersen, 22, and Aapo Halme, 21, make errors that led to goals. With Diaby suspended, they had been the only available centre-backs at Oakwell, along with Toby Sibbick, 20, who has played just twice in Struber’s 14 matches and had looked set to be loaned out. 

Speaking before Sollbauer's capture was confirmed, Struber told the Chronicle: “Maybe we sign more than one defender. I have a responsibility to the club to keep them in the league. Maybe we need some more central defenders to do that. When I look back on the Preston game and see these mistakes, it shows me that one or two players need more pressure. It is too clear who is the first team and we need more pressure from the bench and also we need new players here in Barnsley to help us stay in the league.”

The Reds are also considering other positions. Struber told the Chronicle: “We are in a good exchange with players in other positions who can help us. But it is not so easy to get the right players for the task that is coming in the next months. We hope we can sign more players in the next few days. It will be a very busy situation but I like to work.”

The FA is investigating Diaby’s alleged failed drugs test after the defeat at Blackburn Rovers in Struber’s first game on November 23. He has been suspended by the club until the investigation is concluded. Struber said: “It’s not an easy situation for everyone, and also for Bambo. But we have to wait for the FA to give us more information. I don’t know what is coming or how long the process will take. My information about it is very small. My focus will be on the next game, not on the situation with Bambo.”

Sollbauer has played for Wolfsberger for almost a decade, mostly in the Austrian top flight. Struber confirmed interest yesterday and said: “He was my captain, he is a very interesting player with a big experience and strength.”

After bringing in Marcel Ritzmaier from Wolfsberger earlier this month, Struber said he would not return to his former club for another player but has been forced to do so by recent performances and Diaby’s absence. He said: “It is not about me and Wolfsberger. I just need the right players.”

The Reds have also been linked with Doncaster Rovers’ 23-year-old midfielder Ben Whiteman. Struber said: “I looked at him but it is not the right situation. We need a player with experience who can play at this level from the first second.”

So far, the Reds have brought in midfielder Ritzmaier and full-back Kilian Ludewig – both of whom Struber worked with in Austria. But the head coach says all the new signings will not necessarily be his former players.  He said: “The player must understand my style but I like players from England, Austria, Germany and the whole world. This is the challenge now, to pick up the players in the winter transfer window which is not easy.” 

Barnsley are determined to hold onto their star players such as captain Alex Mowatt as well as strikers Conor Chaplin and Cauley Woodrow, for whom they are understood to have turned down approaches earlier in the window. Struber has insisted throughout the window that all of those players will stay.  Barnsley loaned forward Mallik Wilks to Hull City for the rest of the season and he came off the bench on Saturday in their loss at Derby County. The 21-year-old winger was signed for a reported £1million from Leeds United last summer after impressing on loan for Doncaster Rovers under ex-Red Grant McCann who is now Hull manager. Wilks played 16 games for the Reds, including nine starts, and scored once against Luton in August. 

He did not feature at all under Struber who said: “It is a very good situation.  “The coach of Hull is a big fan of his and this is always very helpful for a player. He will get the right gametime this season and maybe we will see him develop. Maybe he can be an interesting player for Barnsley in the summer.”

Wilks follows midfielders Cameron McGeehan and Jordan Green who have been loaned out to Portsmouth and Newport County respectively this window. Full-backs Dimitri Cavare and Dani Pinillos could all be loaned out in the next week as well as winger Mamadou Thiam. 

The Reds are third-bottom in the Championship table, four points adrift of safety. Following tomorrow’s FA Cup game at Portsmouth, they make a trip on February 1 to Charlton Athletic who are six points and three places ahead of them following a 0-0 draw at home to third-placed Fulham on Wednesday.