Barnsley are not close to signing a new defender while Mads Andersen looks set to be benched for tomorrow’s game at third-placed Fulham.

The last-placed Reds are nine points adrift of safety – the biggest gap they have faced all season – and winless in six games, with head coach Gerhard Struber saying it is ‘not an easy moment.’

Tommy Smith, a 29-year-old centre-back who made 247 Championship appearances for Ipswich Town, played as a trialist in the under 23s’ 3-0 loss to Hull City last Friday. The New Zealand international has most recently been playing for Colorado Rapids in MLS.

Struber told the Chronicle: “We had a look at him but I think he is not the right player in our situation right now. He is a good player but he is not right for us in this moment.”

Another player the Reds have considered is Tom Carroll, a 27-year-old former Premier League midfielder who played against Barnsley for Swansea City on December 29 but has since left the Welsh club. Struber said: “We spoke about him but it’s not a big topic right now.”

The head coach added: “We look in the market but at the moment we do not have the right player. We have to look for a centre-back but it is not easy at this time to bring one with the right quality who can help us from the first second. We hope we can find one in the next few weeks but it is not so easy. We have to bring the best out of the squad we have now.”

Andersen, the 22-year-old Danish centre-back, has started 28 of Barnsley’s 32 Championship games this season, producing some good performances but also making several mistakes such as the one that gifted Birmingham City their goal in a 1-0 victory on Tuesday. Struber hinted he would be dropped and replaced by Aapo Halme.

“We have made enough mistakes. We always have blackouts. I hope this is the end and I will change the players who always create these mistakes. In the end we are a team, we win together and lose together. It is not only Mads with mistakes. Mads played a normal game but, in the end, he made another mistake. It is the right time for him to have a break. It is not easy for him, I will help him and the whole team will help him. He has a very good attitude.

“He is a very good player, but a young player. He is in a relegation fight with high pressure. Some players can handle this pressure but for Mads it is very very difficult. It was a simple situation, he should shoot the ball over the stadium but young players have another picture in this action. For Mads it is a big learning season and he will profit from that in one or two years.  When you play in the Championship with young players like this, it is very very hard because they have big ups and downs.”

Luton Town’s win over Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday means Barnsley are bottom of the Championship. Struber’s men ended a four-match losing run with a 1-1 draw against local rivals Wednesday on Saturday but then lost 1-0 at home to Birmingham City on Tuesday.

Asked if his side still believed they could survive, Struber told the Chronicle: “This is not an easy moment for me or my team. The most important thing is that the staff believe in the team and the team believes that we can stay in the league. We have to create games with high focus and this was the problems in the last games.”

He added: “We can either believe or give up, I never give up. We believe in our team and give all that we can to the next game. We are professionals and we work very very hard. The Birmingham game was frustrating but we have reflected and we are clear and we are looking forward. I am a realist not a dreamer but I believe we can pick up points. The only focus must be in our concentration and not on the league table, which is not so helpful.

"We need a good run of wins. We have to fight for this run. When we get good momentum and believe in this, we will see. I hope and believe that we can start this run, when we have the right energy and we don’t make mistakes like the last games.”

After tomorrow’s trip to London, Barnsley complete February with three games in a week against lower mid-table sides who are just above the relegation  battle. They host Middlesbrough on February 22 before visits to Hull City in midweek then Reading the following Saturday.