Barnsley could bring in as few as ‘one or two’ more first team players this summer if all goes to plan, says Dane Murphy.
The chief executive added that he would like the main business to be done before the Reds return for pre-season on June 28.
The Oakwell club made their first first team signing of the summer on Tuesday when they brought in striker Devante Cole on a three-year deal.
They are understood to be looking to strengthen that area further having lost out on last season’s loan star Daryl Dike, while left wing-back is also an area of interest.
Barnsley are hopeful that their captain Alex Mowatt – who is due to return from an overseas holiday at the end of this week – will sign a new deal, with his current contract set to expire at the end of the month.
They are also determined to keep hold of head coach Valerien Ismael – for whom there had been no approach as of yesterday – and all of his first team players. Murphy believes that, if they do that while recruiting quality not quantity, they can repeat or better the fifth-placed finish which was followed by a play-off semi-final loss to Swansea City last month.
Murphy told the Chronicle: “I think, because of how strong the group is right now and that we don’t intend on letting our core group leave at all, it’s only going to take a few pieces.
“It could be as little as one or two.
“We started the work early and, if we can get those players in before pre-season starts, we will be in a better position than most.
“We had plans in place pretty early on in the spring and, no matter which league we ended up in, we had begun our work.
“Conversations are ongoing and we’re trying to make the team better every day and that includes adding pieces to the squad that will help us improve and push towards promotion.”
The Reds are looking at signing a new left wing-back. Both Callum Styles, who excelled there in 2020/21 with 40 league starts, and Clarke Oduor, who has not played since December, were used on the left but are natural central midfielders.
Ben Williams is a left-back but missed the whole of last season with a serious knee injury.
The 22-year-old has almost recovered and could return for pre-season training.
Murphy said: “We have had discussions at left wing-back. Callum Styles has had an incredible year there but his most natural position is in the centre.
“Is there a scenario where we can push Callum to the inside and strengthen the left wing-back position?
“We have Clarke and Ben who are both very good players and capable, but we’ll see what happens in the off-season and it is a position we’re looking at.
“We look at all positions on the field to make sure we have depth for the demanding schedule of this league week in, week out.”
The UK’s exit from the EU this year means it is more difficult to sign European players, with a points-based system ruling out bringing in the equivalent of previous signings Michal Helik and Mads Andersen.
But the immigration rules from other areas of the world have been loosened, such as America from where Barnsley brought in Dike and may return for other players while Murphy also mentioned Mexico and South America.
“The terms of Brexit have narrowed the scope on some European markets while some others have opened up globally.
“We can now have conversations with players we wouldn’t have been able to sign before Brexit.”
Will Barnsley spend more money on transfer fees and wages after finishing in the play-offs and producing an impressive set of accounts which showed only a modest loss despite the pandemic?
Murphy said: “I don’t think we’ll increase our spending capacity.
“We have shown that, by staying within our limits and being smart, we are still able to compete in the top six.”
Murphy has previously said that he is confident head coach Ismael – who has been linked with a move after leading the Reds to fifth – will still be in charge for next season.
West Bromwich Albion, who had been allegedly considering an approach, are reportedly set to appoint former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner.
Crystal Palace – Ismael’s former club who reportedly have him on a list of candidates to replace Roy Hodgson – looked set to appoint former Wolves boss Nuno but talks ended midweek.
As well as keeping Ismael and Mowatt, the Reds are determined not to sell any of their star players this summer, and instead tie some down to longer deals.
Barnsley are understood to be close to extending the deals of some players.
The players who will be out of contract in a year include Michael Sollbauer, Aapo Halme, Ben Williams, Romal Palmer, Victor Adeboyejo, George Miller and Elliot Simoes.
Meanwhile, the Reds are expected to play at least three pre-season friendlies in July against lower league clubs and also have a week-long training camp in the UK.