POYA Asbaghi says it is ‘no secret the competition in central midfield could increase’ at Barnsley but adds he doesn’t know when to expect a first signing of the January transfer window.

The Reds have struggled for consistency in central midfield this season.

Asked if that was a position they will recruit in, head coach Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “We will wait and see.

“Of course people can see that maybe the competition in central midfield could be increased.

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“That is no secret.”

The Reds decided to let Herbie Kane stay on loan at League One Oxford United for the season, despite having difficulty finding a successful pairing in his position of central midfield.

United paid a fee to remove Barnsley’s recall clause from the loan which lasts until the end of the season.

The 23-year-old has impressed for the Us this season, while Barnsley’s young central midfielders such as Josh Benson, Romal Palmer and loanee Claudio Gomes have struggled for form.

Asbaghi was reluctant to discuss Kane when asked by the Chronicle if he had been given the choice to bring him back.

“I don’t want to say who decided this or that. I know that when this decision was made, the club knew exactly what they were doing.

“I hope and I know that we have communication where I can help with my angle from a manager’s point of view just as people above me watch it from their point of view.”

The Chronicle understands, as of yesterday, that no incoming signings were imminent while no bids had been accepted for players. Asbaghi said he had ‘not heard of any bids.’

The likes of captain and top-scorer Cauley Woodrow, centre-backs Michal Helik and Mads Andersen, goalkeeper Brad Collins and Callum Styles are thought to be of potential interest to other clubs. Scottish giants Celtic are reportedly monitoring Styles.

Woodrow, 27, and Helik, 26, both have 18 months left on their contracts so may be most likely to leave if an acceptable bid arrives – although both are currently injured.

West Brom, managed by former Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael, have signed Daryl Dike who excelled on loan for the Reds earlier this year. They are not thought to be looking to do any more business, having been linked with Woodrow.

Asbaghi said last week that Barnsley would need to ‘make room financially’ for new signings by moving players on but has also said selling their star men would be a ‘step back.’

Yesterday, he said: “I don’t know when to expect a potential signing. But the sooner we get players the better.

“I get to share my view about where maybe our competition can be increased and what specifics players in a certain position could have.”

Left-back Ben Williams joined League One Cheltenham Town this week in Barnsley’s first piece of business of the window.

Another who looks likely to leave is centre-back Toby Sibbick.

The 22-year-old is contracted until 2023 but has not played since Asbaghi took over as manager. He has been linked with a move to Scottish club Hibernian.

Asked about Sibbick, Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “Let’s wait and see.

“We don’t exclude anything at this moment. But it’s too early to say anything regarding him.”

Generally on players leaving if not playing, he said: “In the end, we want to make room in the squad and it’s better to let go of players who aren’t playing not players who are playing.”

Remy Vita, the Bayern Munich loanee, has not played since joining on September 1 with the view to a permanent deal.

He has been on the bench for the last three games and ten times in total.

After Williams’ exit, Vita is the only natural left-back at the club although midfielder Styles has played there often as well as right-sided players Callum Brittain and Jordan Williams, or Liam Kitching in a back four.

Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “I will not go too deep into specifics on positions but I can say maybe left-back is not our biggest concern.”

On Vita, Asbaghi said: “Remy is making small improvements every week and understanding the whole picture of football is both defending and attacking.

“He is becoming a more complete player even if his strengths are still his speed, being good one versus one with defenders and his left foot.

“In the end, I cannot look so much at which player is on loan or who is younger or who has the most transfer value.

“I pick the team on who is performing in training.

“It is not fair to start players because they are on loan. I create an atmosphere where, if you are doing well in training, you will play.”

The Reds are currently second-bottom in the Championship, eight points from safety, with several sides above them having played at least one game fewer.

Their match at Nottingham Forest was called off on Monday due to Covid-19 in the home team’s camp. It has been rearranged to Tuesday, January 25.

They have two wins from 24 games which is the lowest in the EFL, while the only side with fewer than their 16 league goals in the top five divisions of English football are Premier League bottom club Norwich City.

Their total of 14 points is three more than Derby, who have been deducted 21.

They now host League Two Barrow in the FA Cup tomorrow then Stoke City in the league on Wednesday.