MICHAEL Duff says Barnsley’s players may have to be ‘realistic’ if they think a lot of them will get moves back to the Championship this summer but insists the club have contingency plans to replace any who are sold.
The transfer window has been officially open for a week, with the full Reds squad due back for pre-season on Monday.
Although there was work going on in the background before now, the appointment of Duff as head coach this week means the main off-the-field focus will be on shaping next season’s squad in the transfer market.
The new season starts in six weeks, on July 30, then the transfer window closes a month later at the end of August.
Barnsley are expected to sell several players this summer as they attempt to offset a loss of £7-8million due to their relegation to League One.
The board have injected £1million equity and are willing to put more in, while insisting they will not accept bids that are below their valuation.
Duff told the Chronicle: “I wouldn’t say I will be persuading players to stay.
“I will give them a clear idea of what I want to do and ask them if they want to be part of it.
“I have been in dressing rooms where you get relegated and the whole team says ‘right I am going straight back to that level I have just come down from.’ But they can’t all be Championship players because they’ve just been relegated out of the Championship.
“There needs to be reality.
“The Championship doesn’t have a lot of money at the minute. If the club get bids, we will deal with it accordingly.”
Duff said there were ‘some seriously good players’ at Oakwell and added: “I have been given no assurances because you can’t guarantee anything in football other than I will probably get sacked at some point.
“A couple of players might have to leave, there are no names or how much that will be for. I spent £15,000 at Cheltenham and we were pretty successful. There is a lot more money to spend here than that, without breaking the bank. But I don’t think money is the be all and end all. If you create the right recruitment team, with the right players and mentality and good coaching, I believe you can get results.”
He also said: “Some of them might not like working with me and might ask to leave. Some of them might want to move on to pastures new.
“I won’t be heavily involved in the training in the first week or two.
“I will be watching players closely and having conversations with them. I need to find out who wants to be here.
“Some might be saying ‘I am off’ because agents tell them what they want to hear. If we get a bid, I will tell them so we all know where we stand.”
Callum Styles – who started Hungary’s 4-0 thrashing of hosts England this week – is reportedly a target for newly-promoted Premier League clubs Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Fulham, as well as several teams on the continent.
Asked if it was realistic to keep Styles this window, Duff told the Chronicle: “It’s difficult to answer at the minute.
“As far as I am aware there hasn’t to been a bid. There’ll be contingency plans. At every club you have a list of ‘if that person goes, he’s the person we will go for.’ Styles got released from Burnley about six months before I got the under 18s job. I have known about him for a long time and I think it’s fantastic that he’s had this experience this week.”
Duff said he had no information on out of contract players Romal Palmer and striker Victor Adeboyejo who have been offered new deals. Adeboyejo is reportedly a target for Portsmouth.
Duff would not comment on whether Barnsley would swoop for some of his former Cheltenham side, for whom Alfie May netted 23 goals last season.
Duff said: ‘I am aware of players who might be coming in, but as far as I am aware there has not been a bid for a player yet.”
Duff will be working with chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad and the recruitment department to bring in players.
He is used to that as he worked alongside director of football Micky Moore at Cheltenham.
He said: “I spent four hours with the analysts this week, getting an understanding of how they work.
“A lot of the names who were on the list were names on my list at Cheltenham. They take out the noise and emotion. But ultimately I will make the final decision on a lot of the players.”
Barnsley have previously focused almost exclusively on bringing in players under 25 and developing them, often to sell on for profit, but new chairman Neerav Parekh has said they will look to recruit more experience this season – something they were badly lacking while being relegated.
Duff said: “The club’s remit is to sell and generate money and be sustainable. But sometimes in a bad run you need a little bit of experience to lead the way.
“If you only have 20-year-olds and you lose three or four in a row, you need someone to guide them who has been through it before.
“I don’t think we’ll be signing five or six 35-year-olds but there is a realisation we might have to slightly tweak the model from the last couple of years.”
Will Hondermarck and Will Lancaster are out of contract but expected to sign new deals.
A number of other under 23s players are expected to be given new or improved deals.