MICHAEL Duff says Barnsley’s January window was ‘positive’ but admits it can only be fairly judged at the end of the season after they have juggled six loan players and tried to get their fleet of new signings match-fit.
The Reds are sixth in League One, five points inside the play-off places, after a 2-1 win at Oxford United on Wednesday, the day after a busy transfer deadline day.
Striker Oli Shaw joined on a permanent deal from Kilmarnock, with Jack Aitchison going to Motherwell permanently, and midfielder Jon Russell was bought from Huddersfield.
Goalkeeper Jack Walton has been sold to Luton Town, with Harry Isted coming in on loan from the Hatters.
Adam Hayton, another goalkeeper, arrived from Spurs.
Earlier in the window, they loaned in striker Max Watters, from Cardiff, and centre-back Bobby Thomas from Burnley then signed right wing-back Barry Cotter from Shamrock Rovers for £20,000.
Duff told the Chronicle: “Time will tell and we’ll know at the end of the season if it’s been good enough. But we’re happy at the moment.”
He added: “We can’t spend the money other teams in the league can but we think we have added a bit of quality and the new players have bought into the team ethos.”
The five new signings other than Thomas had played just a minute of first team football between them since November before arriving.
The Reds are now working on building their match fitness.
Duff told the Chronicle: “With all due respect, if they had been ripping it up in the Championship and playing every week, we wouldn’t get them.
“There’s a reason they are available. We’ll try to get them fit on the job which is not easy. Max is starting to look sharper and like himself, that’s why we wanted him in early not on deadline day.”
Isted’s arrival means Barnsley have six loanees, with five allowed in a matchday squad. Duff said last week that he was ‘not a fan’ of having six loans and needing to leave one out for each game.
After the window, he told the Chronicle: “It was needs must.
“It’s not ideal to have to leave one of the loans out. At the moment Boban (Tedic) is coming back from injury but he’s come back looking a different animal. He looks a lot bigger and leaner.
“We will have to manage it if and when it happens that they are all available.”
Barnsley were hoping to bring in another centre-back, with interest in Burton Albion’s Tom Hamer.
The Reds, who play a back three, currently have three fit centre-backs, but Jordan Williams could move there from right wing-back while Robbie Cundy is returning from injury. Youngster Rudi Pache was on the bench for the first time on Wednesday having signed earlier that day following a trial. He had previously been in the Oakwell academy before a spell with Danish club Esbjerg.
On the lack of defensive cover, Duff told the Chronicle: “There is never a manager in the country who is 100 per cent happy. We have flexibility within it.
“Barry Cotter has come in and is getting fitter so Jordan can go in one if needs be.
“Robbie Cundy was on the grass this week and is not a million miles off.
“We might leave ourselves short but we have to plug gaps where we can.”
Barnsley were confident throughout the window that they would not sell any of their first team players – with interest expected in the likes of Mads Andersen and Jordan Williams. They all remained at the club. Duff said: “It was positive. We didn’t lose anyone we didn’t want to lose.”
Eduino Vaz, a left wing-back who has recently left non-league Chelmsford City, and Manchester United youngster Charlie Wellens, a right wing-back, have been on trial at Oakwell. They both played in an in-house friendly on Saturday. Chelmsford manager Robbie Simpson has said Vaz, from Guinea-Bisseau, does not have a work permit.
Duff said: “We’re just having a look at them.
“It gets publicised more when they play in front of the supporters. But we have a look at a lot of people. We’re always looking and trying to improve. They wouldn’t come into the first team group as yet. The under 21s need bodies.”
Amir Ariely – the 19-year-old centre-back – moved to Hapoel Be’er Sheva in his homeland of Israel after three years at Oakwell during which he never played a first team game.