BARNSLEY are attempting to bring in James Norwood and possibly another striker before the start of the season, with Michael Duff admitting his forwards’ department ‘needs work’.
With the Reds due to start their League One season a fortnight tomorrow at Plymouth Argyle, they are very low on senior strikers following the sales to Luton Town of last season’s two top-scorers Carlton Morris and Cauley Woodrow.
Victor Adeboyejo, who was offered an extension to his contract which expired last month, is being linked with a move to Championship club Reading and head coach Michael Duff said his time at Barnsley was ‘done and dusted.’
The Reds were last night closing in on the signing of free agent striker Norwood. The 31-year-old has netted almost 200 goals in a career mainly spent in non-league football before scoring 29 in League Two for Tranmere Rovers in the 2017/18 season. That earned him a move to League One Ipswich Town and he netted 28 goals in 88 games before his release this summer.
His signing would represent a change in policy for Barnsley, who have almost exclusively signed players aged 25 or younger for most of the last decade.
The Reds are aiming to recruit at least two forwards by the transfer deadline at the end of August which is six weeks away. Any new arrivals are highly likely to be free transfers – like the five players already brought in – loan players, or for very minimal fees due to the lack of funds following relegation and an estimated £7-8million loss in revenue.
Barnsley have had Norwich City’s American international striker Sebastian Soto on trial with the first team.
The current first team options up front are Devante Cole and Aaron Leya Iseka, who both struggled during the relegation season after signing a year ago, as well as Jack Aitchison, who is more of an attacking midfielder. They also have youngsters such as Aiden Marsh and David Bremang who have not been involved in recent first team friendlies.
Earlier in the week, Duff told the Chronicle: “We can’t lose three centre forwards and not replace them.
“We look short in that part of the pitch and it’s an area that we do need to strengthen. I don’t think you’re saying anything too controversial there.”
Speaking after Saturday’s 0-0 friendly draw with League Two Crewe, Duff said: “I think the back third and the middle third looked really good. It’s just the top third that needs a little bit of work.”
The Reds have agreed to sign 18-year-old striker Jack Butterfill after he left Leicester City.
He was on trial with the under 23s at the end of last season and played for them again on Friday, scoring in a 2-1 loss at Penistone Church.
His arrival is expected to be announced soon, along with some new deals for other under 23s players.
Duff said: “Jack’s more of a development one. He’ll be for the younger group – I don’t think he’s ready for the first team yet. I’ve not seen that much of him.
“I obviously watched the game (against Penistone) but I’ll have to make a judgement call at some point.”
Barnsley have been linked with Peterborough United’s central midfielder Ryan Broom, who played under Duff at Cheltenham, but the Chronicle understands he is not someone they are currently looking at.
Reports of a move for Plymouth’s striker Luke Jephcott are also thought to be wide of the mark.
Bristol Rovers are reportedly ‘in talks’ to sign midfielder Luke Thomas permanently, after he helped them to promotion to League One on loan last season.
Thomas was in training at Oakwell yesterday and has been a regular in friendlies so far this summer.
Former Chelsea and Fulham youngster Jordan Aina, a 20-year-old left-back, is currently on trial with the under 23s as is ex-Aston Villa midfielder Charlie Farr, also 20.
As well as Morris and Woodrow, Michal Helik and Callum Styles have been expected to leave Oakwell this summer.
Styles was given extra time off following international duty with Hungary but returned to training last week and played in Saturday’s friendly.
Poland international centre-back Helik has been recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in April.
Duff said: “He’s getting closer. He’s not trained with us yet.
“He’s still with the sports scientists so even if his ankle is ready then he’ll have to spend some time with the conditioning coaches because he’s got to condition himself ready for where the lads are at now. The training has ramped up.”
So far this summer, the Reds have brought in goalkeeper Jamie Searle, centre-backs Conor McCarthy and Robbie Cundy, midfielder Luca Connell and, this week, left wing-back Nicky Cadden.
They have sold Morris and Woodrow, as well as Isaac Christie-Davies, while Patrick Schmidt also left the club and both Adeboyejo and Palmer turned down new deals. Midfielder Palmer has joined Turkish second tier club Goztepe on a four-year deal.