POYA Asbaghi says ‘everybody knew we could use more competition in midfield’ but, after a late deal for Tom Trybull collapsed, he has backed Barnsley’s young players in that position to perform well for the rest of the season.
The Reds were close to bringing in Hannover midfielder Trybull, 28, who has experience in the Championship and Premier League with Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers.
But the deal fell through towards the end of the January transfer window and he instead moved to Sandhausen in the German second tier.
The Reds have struggled in central midfield for much of this season, which sees them last in the Championship, eight points from safety and winless in 12 league games.
All their regular players in that position are 23 or younger and in either their first or second full season in professional football.
The only players they brought in in January were attacking midfielders Amine Bassi and Domingos Quina who both arrived on deadline day on Monday.
Quina played on the left of a midfield three on Wednesday against Cardiff City but is generally a winger or attacker.
Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “I cannot lie, a central midfielder was something we looked at.
“Fans, the club, everybody knew we could use more competition in that position. But there was a deal that didn’t go through.
“I know that, with the players we have, we can still make the midfield work.
“One way is to not put all the responsibility on the central midfielders to win games, it’s a collective.
“If we can get better with our strikers pushing opponents down for a longer time, the job for the defensive midfielders becomes much easier.
“The new players are not central midfielders, but hopefully with the qualities they have they can make the midfielders better.”
Barnsley sold defender Toby Sibbick to Hearts late last week.
He was a regular for most of 2021 but had not featured at all under Asbaghi, who suggested the reasons for his exit were due to off-the-pitch issues.
Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “We want an atmosphere here, even if we don’t get the performances or results we want, where we have a fighting spirit and give 100 per cent.
“This is an important ingredient that you have to have as a player, whether you are playing or not. That is a must for a team in our position.
“With the players we have now, I know all of them are ready to do that.
“That is all I will say.”
Both new signings had started just two games this season before joining Barnsley.
Quina started the 1-0 loss to Cardiff while Bassi came off the bench.
Asked if he was concerned they would be rusty going into the hectic Championship schedule, Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “Yeah, of course.
“We cannot expect them to put on top performances from the first game.
“But they are young and I think it won’t take them too long to get fit.
“If Quina was playing every game for Fulham, we would not get him here.”
He added: “These two players have not been affected by the first half of the season at Barnsley so they might add something different to the group.”
The Reds went into the January transfer window well adrift of safety but, despite losing a series of players to injury and Covid-19, they waited for more than 30 days to sign anyone.
Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “Of course, with the January we have had and the numbers we had in the training, it would have helped to have players in early.
“But, with the process the club has, it is important they don’t stress and don’t just get players that we are not sure can contribute in a good way.
“I hope the wait is worth it because we are more sure of the players that we have brought in.”
For the third successive January, Barnsley did not sell any of their first team regulars after rejecting bids.
Asbaghi said: “We need to have the players that we depend on.
“It is important to keep them because they have quality and also because we need to continuity. We have enough players who have been here long enough to know what we want.
“With those players staying here and making sure we perform better, they will get better bids later in their career.
“If they did not want to put up a fight for us and stay, the club would make an agreement with the players to sell them.
“If we have a much better spring now than fall, they will get even better bids in the summer.”
Obbi Oulare was loaned to Molenbeek, initially for six months but the Belgian second division club can extend it to 12 and 18 months until the summer of 2023.
The 26-year-old Belgian striker made just two substitute appearances after signing last season on a three-year deal from Standard Liege. He has struggled with back problems and a lack of fitness.
Asbaghi said: “Now the worst part for him with his injuries is over, I don’t think it will be too long until he can play. If you ask Obbi and us, we all wanted more. He has struggled with injuries and it’s difficult to demand more from a player who cannot play.
“He’s out on loan and it’s important we follow it up and check on him. We’re not excluding him. We hope the adventure he has will do him good in terms of playing games which we weren’t sure we could give to him. If he does well, he could be an option for us in the future.”