BARNSLEY skipper Alex Mowatt is backing his fellow midfielders Romal Palmer and Herbie Kane to carry on catching the eye.
And he has also welcomed the re-emergence of versatile defender Toby Sibbick under head coach Valerien Ismael.
Palmer has come firmly back into focus since Ismael last month decided against extending to loan of experienced Leicester City man Matty James.
The boss wants the former Manchester City youth player, who made three appearances last season, to compete with fellow 22-year-old Herbie Kane to play alongside influential Mowatt in the centre of midfield.
In the nine games since the exit of James, who is now on loan at Coventry City, Palmer has started five and Kane, who joined from Liverpool in October, four.
In total this time around, Palmer, who scored his first Reds goal in the 2-1 loss at Blackburn Rovers in November, has made seven starts and 14 appearances from the bench and Kane eight and 16.
“Competition is important, because it keeps everyone on their toes, myself included,” said Mowatt, who has missed just one of Barnsley’s 35 games in all competitions this season, due to Covid.
“Herbie and Romal are both good players who offer something different.
“Romal was unlucky last season, because he was making an impact when he got injured, and it’s good to see him fit and enjoying his football.”
Sibbick returned to Oakwell in December after being out on loan for 11 months, first at Hearts, where ex-Reds head coach Daniel Stendel was in charge, then at Oostende.
The 21-year-old played only twice in Scotland and was unable to break into the side in Belgium.
But since coming off the bench during the 2-0 home win over Tranmere Rovers in round three of the FA Cup last month, he has made five starts and three further appearances as a substitute.
Last season, his first at Barnsley after signing from AFC Wimbledon, he made 18 appearances, all but one of them starts, but gradually fell out of favour after Gerhard Struber replaced Stendel, leading to his loans.
“Toby has come back into the group and done well,” added Mowatt. “I suppose it’s like a second chance for him under a new manager, who has a different way of playing, which suits Toby.”