With the transfer window to open in just over a month, we look at what they may need in January.
SOME MORE STRIKERS
IF YOU were to ask Barnsley fans what their team needs in the January transfer window, the words ‘strikers’ is likely to be the first out of their mouths.
That would probably be the same for the coaching staff, after Michael Duff was keen to add to his options up front in the summer transfer window but the club were not able to in the final weeks and days.
Since then, he has turned the Reds into one of the best defensive sides, for their level, in English football and has them in the League One play-off places.
That is a fine achievement considering all the turmoil of the previous year but, in order to stay in the top six permanently in a gruelling second half of the season, they surely need reinforcements up front. How much firepower they add in January may define the season.
There is still very little money to spend so the Reds may rely on loans again. But they bid £300,000 for a striker in the summer and have said they would be willing to do so again for the right target.
They are unlikely to have the same success as with the signings of Carlton Morris and Daryl Dike in January last year, but any competent striker would add depth, while some more pace in attack would be helpful.
There were long spells this season when Barnsley were barely creating any chances. But, since the change to 3-5-2, they are carving out opportunities more easily for players in all positions. They still need more quantity and quality at the top end to exploit that.
Devante Cole has been a good performer this season and is top-scorer with six goals, but he has been the only consistent presence in the attack. James Norwood, although he has three goals, has been more hit and miss while Slobodan Tedic is a very raw talent who has not scored in 38 games and is now injured for months.
Fabio Jalo could be a future superstar but he has only been able to drive legally since last Friday when he turned 17, while Josh Martin and Jack Aitchison are more suited to attacking midfield roles.
Adam Phillips and Josh Benson have provided goals from midfield but there needs to be more consistent goal threat and options up front.
KEEP MADS ANDERSEN
IT HAS been a remarkable journey for the Danish centre-back from the 21-year-old thrown into a far too young Barnsley side in 2019 who seemed to make a match-losing error every few weeks.
He has been generally very good for the best part of three years now, will turn 25 next month and, should he stay fit and at Oakwell until May, will surpass Arjan De Zeeuw as the non-British or Irish player with the most Reds appearances.
Barnsley have conceded the joint fewest goals in League One, with 15 in 18 games, while they and Ipswich Town have faced the fewest shots on goal and had to make the fewest blocks and saves. That defensive excellence is the platform for the majority of their success this season. It is not all down to Andersen, the players around him also need plenty of credit, but he is the captain and the most experienced defender.
With his contract set to expire in 2024, the Reds are likely to sell him in an upcoming window if, as expected, he attracts attention from other clubs. They have rejected approaches in the past.
Barnsley are in desperate need of money and a big-money sale is an obvious way of generating it. But, if he were to be taken out of the centre of the back three in January, it is hard to imagine they would have the same solidity in the run-in.
Like Andersen, Brad Collins also seems a cut above the third tier and someone who is likely to be of interest to Championship clubs. But it is highly unusual for goalkeepers to be sold, especially in January, and the Reds are unlikely to receive anywhere near the type of bid that would tempt them to go without such a solid performer.
Interest in teenager Jalo should be expected but, since he is signed up for multiple years, the Reds must be looking to develop him further before possibly selling.
MORE DEFENSIVE COVER?
WHILE it is not as important as bolstering the forward line, the back five could possibly do with a bit more support.
With Conor McCarthy out for the season, and Jasper Moon back in the under 23s, the Reds are down to four fit senior centre-backs.
They are Andersen, Liam Kitching and Tom Edwards who have impressed as the starting trio recently, and capable back-up Robbie Cundy who has been coming on for valuable late cameos to protect leads.
But, with Edwards also the competition for Jordan Williams at right wing-back, the Reds are potentially only two injuries or suspensions away from being short in that area.
With Williams being looked after following injuries, and Will Hondermarck now out until the new year, they are low on options at right wing-back.
If they do not sign any defenders, they either hope there are no injuries, or back players who have barely featured this season to step up if needed.
TRY TO AVOID LAST-MINUTE SCRAMBLE FOR SIGNINGS
IN BOTH the transfer windows this year, Barnsley have done the majority of their business in the final minutes as they scrambled a few deals, mainly loans, across the line with mixed success.
They missed out on the much-needed experienced central midfielder Tom Trybull late on in January then there was a striker at Oakwell on September 1 but, with at least six other deals also ongoing, the paperwork could not be completed in time.
It is a far cry from the club who, in the past, would pride themselves on meticulous forward planning.
This time, with less work to do in theory, Barnsley must make sure they get their men – ideally early on.
January is traditionally a very difficult window to do good business in, while clubs and players may once again want to wait until the final days or hours to decide whether to make the move.
But Barnsley, unless they have another terrible run of form in the next few weeks, are likely to be promotion contenders going into the window. That should give them slightly more recruiting power than in the very turbulent summer.