The Reds began their league campaign with a 1-0 loss at home to Luton Town on Saturday then won 2-0 at Middlesbrough in the EFL Cup on Tuesday to set up a trip to Premier League Chelsea next Wednesday. Head coach Gerhard Struber said, after the loss to Luton, that he had ‘too many skinny players’ and that he wanted to bring in more physical signings but that they would not necessarily have Championship experience.
The Reds are hoping to sign a striker, ideally a tall targetman to provide a physical presence up front, having used centre-backs Aapo Halme and Mads Andersen as makeshift forwards. One target is Croatian 20-year-old Sandro Kulenovic from Dinamo Zagreb. The Chronicle understands there is no truth in reports that Barnsley are close to signing Lion Lauberbach from German club Holstein Kiel.
The Reds would like to make a signing today but next week seems more likely. Coach Adam Murray confirmed they were looking for a targetman striker and told the Chronicle: “It’s an unbelievably physical league and, at some point, you have to do the horrible parts of the game. We need the tools to do that. Our backline is very strong and physical now but we need that all over the pitch. It’s an ingredient we are looking for and hopefully it can be added to the brew.”
Barnsley are hoping to bring in a left-back, with Ben Williams out for most of the season due to injury, while they are still considering a new signing in central midfield. Murray added: “We are quite low on numbers but it’s a case of quality not quantity. The recruitment team and Dane (Murphy, chief executive) are working hard to bring in the players Gerhard wants. We’re very wary that we have a very very strong team spirit so it needs to be the right character who comes in.”
The transfer window is due to close on October 5, 17 days from now, but deals can still be done between English clubs until October 16. So far the Reds have brought in striker Dominik Frieser, midfielder Isaac Christie-Davies and defender Michal Helik as well as re-signing wing-back Kilian Ludewig after last season’s loan spell. Yesterday they brought in winger Daniel Bramall, 22, for their under 23s squad. He left Premier League Everton last season then spent time at non-league clubs Buxton and Matlock.
Meanwhile, the Reds do not believe that the positive Covid-19 test of Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock will impact them as he was not in the dugout on Tuesday. But they are waiting for the results of both clubs’ latest tests.
Tomorrow’s hosts Reading finished 14th in last season’s Championship, drawing 1-1 at Oakwell in December then winning 2-0 at home to Barnsley on February 29. They brought in Veljko Paunovic as their new manager. The Serbian had previously coached Chicago Fire in MLS.
They began their Championship campaign with a 2-0 win at Derby County on Saturday then lost 1-0 at home to Luton Town in the EFL Cup on Tuesday. Andy Yiadom, the former Barnsley captain, is expected to face his former club. Barnsley have a poor recent record against the Royals, failing to win any of the last six meetings, losing three.
Murray said: “We didn’t expect Reading to change manager when they did but they have had a really good start. We’ve watched footage of them and they have a clear style with individual talents and X-Factor players. It will be tough but we’re going into it full of confidence. We have to approach every game like we did in the last nine games of last season. We’ll be full of energy and hopefully we will have a more positive performance than last time we went down there.
“We were surprised by the performance we put in against Luton and we were disappointed by it. The good thing was we then got things right that we’d spoken about against Middlesbrough. We have to get wins on the board as quick as we can. We can’t be finding our feet all last season like last season which we mainly spent catching up. We are in a much better place than at the start of last season. The boys are a lot clearer on what we want them to do and how we want to play.
“We haven’t even spoken about the Wednesday game. Reading is the big game, the cup game is a bonus and a great fixture but three Championship points is what we need.”
Murray is enjoying being one of Struber’s coaches. He said: “It’s a pleasure to work with him. I enjoy watching his style of football so to coach it and learn from it is fantastic. Last season was an unbelievable experience and it was a learning experience for us all that you normally would get over years.
“We’re very optimistic this season but we know we have one of the lowest budgets in the league, if not the lowest. We are growing as a team, we have shown we can beat anyone in this league and we have a very clear gameplan and a belief. We don’t fear anyone, we just need to be consistent with a young squad.”