Barnsley are trying to recruit a striker and, possibly, a wing-back but Valerien Ismael admits it is ‘very, very difficult’ to get deals done in the final days of the ‘ugly’ January transfer window.
The deadline for transfers is 11pm on Monday, and the head coach says the Reds face a ‘fight’ until then, while he is confident of keeping hold of stars players such as captain Alex Mowatt.
Barnsley’s wing-backs Callum Brittain and Callum Styles have been two of their best players this season but Styles is naturally a midfielder while the back-ups are Clarke Oduor, also a natural midfielder who has barely featured for Ismael, and Jordan Williams who has been injured.
Ismael, who revealed he wanted a striker last week, told the Chronicle: “We are looking also for another position (he later confirmed it was wing-back),
“But we will see if it’s possible.
“The market is very very difficult for every club. It is ugly and very complicated. But we try to find solutions.
“The first position we look for is, for sure, a striker.
“But we have some ideas and we will try to be creative in other situations.
“We will have to fight to get our targets until the final day of the window.”
The Reds signed striker Carlton Morris and centre-back Liam Kitching within days of the start of the transfer window and have not recruited in the last three weeks.
They are understood to be considering moves for some overseas options while they are also chasing Wigan striker Kyle Joseph and have tabled at least one bid for him.
The likes of Celtic and Tottenham Hotspur have also been linked with the 19-year-old Scottish youth international who made his debut earlier this season and netted five goals in 13 games for the League One club.
Wigan are hoping to come out of administration due to a takeover next week and are determined to keep Joseph.
Ismael said Joseph is ‘one name among a few on our list’.
He added: “We will try everything to get one striker. We know exactly what we want.
“Dane Murphy (chief executive) works hard on this case. We want to find the solution before the deadline.”
Barnsley currently have, as options in their front three, 11-goal top-scorer Cauley Woodrow and new signing Morris as well as Conor Chaplin, Dominik Frieser and Victor Adeboyejo who each have two league goals so far this season.
Their other first team strikers are Patrick Schmidt and George Miller but either could be loaned out if a new signing is brought in.
Captain Alex Mowatt’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season, with the Reds hoping to extend it, while they rejected an offer for their skipper earlier in the window. Ismael has insisted all along that Mowatt wants to stay at the club beyond the current window.
Ismael said: “Alex is focused, we are focused. I am very very calm and comfortable. I have a good feeling.
“The way he is playing and the way we are dealing with the situation at the club – we are doing our job.”
As well as Mowatt, the likes of Woodrow and highly-rated 20-year-old Callum Styles are understood to be of interest to other clubs.
But both are under long-term contracts and would require a substantial offer, while chief executive Dane Murphy has previously said it ‘wouldn’t make sense’ to sell any ‘core’ players in January.
Barnsley are expected to trigger their option to extend striker Victor Adeboyejo’s contract by another year in the next few days, the Chronicle understands.
Midfielder Isaac Christie-Davies is set to join an overseas club on loan until the end of the season. The 23-year-old is yet to make his debut after signing a three-year deal last summer.
Ismael said the deal was done and added: “He needs to play.
“It is the same situation as Luke Thomas and Elliot Simoes. They are young players with talent but they need to play. We will observe him.”
Barnsley also cancelled the contract on Friday of their former captain Mike Bahre.
The 25-year-old German midfielder had recovered from a groin operation but had struggled for regular starts through most of his 69-game Barnsley career, which begain in 2018, especially after the departure of his mentor Daniel Stendel who made him captain.
Austrian striker Schmidt, 22, has played in just two of Barnsley’s last 18 matches – both against Norwich City as a substitute – despite being a regular on the bench, while he has started only four times in the league since arriving at the start of last season.
Miller, also 22, has played seven games under Ismael but is yet to start for Barnsley after signing two years ago and being loaned out previously to League One Bradford City then League Two Scunthorpe United, which saw him score one goal in 30 games combined. The striker has returned from a knee injury and came on against Norwich on Saturday but was not in Wednesday’s squad.