Gerhard Struber is on his way back to Barnsley and he looks extremely likely to be their head coach for the 2020/21 Championship season which starts in less than a month. 

Struber has spent the last three weeks with his wife and children, who live in Salzburg, but is due back in Barnsley this weekend. The Austrian head coach had been tipped as one of the candidates tipped to take the vacant managerial position at newly-relegated Watford but the Hornets are set to appoint Vladimir Ivic. 

Struber has attracted interest from other clubs after keeping Barnsley up on the last day of the season, having been nine points adrift with 14 games left, but the Reds are confident he wants to continue to develop that team.  They are also hopeful that full-back Kilian Ludewig will join him. 

Some of the Reds’ first team players have been back at Oakwell in small groups since last Friday, with the squad and staff being tested yesterday at the ground for Covid-19 before fitness tests today ahead of next week’s trip to St George’s Park. 

Struber is likely to bring in two first team coaches to join him and Adam Murray, following the departures of Max Senft and Matt Rose last month. Greg Miller also left the club this week after two and a half years as head of academy coaching. The season is due to start on September 12, less than a month from now, with the fixtures set to be published on Friday.  The first round of the EFL Cup will be played on September 5, which is only three weeks away. 

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As well as keeping their head coach, the Reds are confident of retaining their key players.  Captain Alex Mowatt, top-scorers Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin and young striker Jacob Brown are all thought to have attracted interest from other clubs. But the Reds have said they want to keep last season’s squad together and it is doubtful whether clubs will meet their valuation for those players.  Brown has once again been linked with a move to Brentford, who were interested in him in January.

The Bees – who lost the play-off final to Fulham after Barnsley denied them automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season – could lose 26-goal top-scorer Ollie Watkins with Brown thought to be one of the options to replace him.  Brown, 22, scored three goals in 39 league starts last season but contributed nine assists. 

As for incomings, the Reds are moving closer to bringing in their first new signing of the summer. They are understood to be looking to strengthen in the full-back area, with another loan for Red Bull Salzburg’s German 20-year-old Ludewig likely, as well as at least one more midfielder and striker.  Many Championship clubs are yet to do any business, and those who have have brought in free transfers or loans with very few making the type of multi-million deals the league has seen in previous summers before the coronavirus crisis caused many clubs financial problems.

One exception is ex-Red Kieffer Moore’s £2million move from Wigan Atletic to Cardiff City yesterday.  Cameron McGeehan and Toby Sibbick have both moved to KV Oostende, the Belgian top flight club also owned by the Reds’ owners, while other fringe players are expected to leave the club – although not all to Oostende. Winger Jordan Green and strikers Victor Adeboyejo and George Miller – none of whom have played under Struber and who were all loaned out last season – are expected to either be loaned again or sold. 

The transfer window is due to shut on October 5, although deals between English clubs can still be done until October 16.