A look at each position as Barnsley's squad takes shape


Mads Andersen and Bobby Thomas will be difficult to replace.

The sold captain and departed Burnley loanee were two thirds of the defence which took Barnsley to Wembley.

Liam Kitching remains a key player, and potential captain for the coming season, but it is unclear who will join him in the back three.

Jesse Debrah’s move fell through this week after he was widely expected to sign.

The Reds have brought in Kacper Lopata and Jack Shepherd from non-league clubs, while 18-year-old Nathan James has impressed in friendlies. They also have Robbie Cundy and Conor McCarthy who are making their way back from injury.

Jasper Moon left permanently for Burton Albion this week after impressing for them on loan earlier in the year.

There is some quantity there but – with so many of those players untested at this level – it remains to be seen whether there is enough quality to compete for promotion.

The likes of Cundy and Lopata are likely to compete to be that aerial-dominator in the middle of the three.

Probably two more signings with quality and ideally some more experience are needed.


Barnsley’s midfield three of Luca Connell, Herbie Kane and Adam Phillips was the engine room of their successful last season.

Kane is one of the players with just a year left on his contract, while Connell and Phillips will doubtless have suitors after excellent first campaigns at Oakwell, but the Reds are hopeful of keeping the trio for this coming season.

They all started at Hull City on Tuesday.

Josh Benson – out injured until September – and Jon Russell were brought in on big contracts but have struggled for gametime, while hometown lad Joe Ackroyd is yet to make his league debut.

Russell, who has spent most of pre-season with Jamaica at the Gold Cup, could have a chance to start the season if Phillips is suspended for the first three games following his Wembley red card.

They have lost Luke Thomas, whose direct running and pace added something extra to the midfield, while Neill Collins has often used two defensive midfielders and a number ten behind the strikers.

So a more attacking midfielder with those qualities might be required.

If Callum Styles remains at Oakwell in August, he could be an option.


As always in the summer, we ask: where are the goals coming from this season?

Devante Cole and James Norwood contributed 27 between them last season and, in Norwood’s case, that was without a good pre-season which he is getting this time.

They are expected to sign Andy Dallas who has a fine record in the National League but will be stepping up two levels, while trying to bring back Max Watters who showed fleeting glimpses of real class while mainly being a substitute on loan last season.

Aaron Leya Iseka is back in training but, unless Collins identifies him as a key player which there is no sign of currently, his significant wages are likely to mean the Reds try to move him on again this summer.

The Belgian, who is contracted until 2025, was an unused substitute at Hull on Tuesday.

There is also Oli Shaw, who played just 81 minutes after signing in January and never at Oakwell, as well as youngsters such as Aiden Marsh, Fabio Jalo and Josiah Dyer.

Some of them may have a chance to prove themselves to the new manager in friendlies then also during the busy start to the season in league and cups as the squad forms.

The Reds are currently without a tall target man striker who could provide a different option.


Nicky Cadden was one of the underrated, consistent performers of last season for Barnsley.

After a mixed start with some injuries, he became a regular source of goals and assists from the left, improved defensively and is one of the older heads in the dressing room at just 26.

But who will he be competing with this season?

Last season’s loanee Ziyad Larkeche has moved to QPR.

Left-footed centre-back Liam Kitching and right wing-back Jordan Williams have played at left wing-back before but that is only likely to happen in emergencies.

Charlie Winfield, the 21-year-old from Wombwell, has been involved in first team in pre-season. He is on a month-to-month contract and is still waiting to make his professional debut. Styles excelled at left wing-back for a Barnsley side that almost reached the Premier League two years ago and is back in training, although there is a good chance he could leave this summer.


Jordan Williams has a year remaining on his contract, with whispers of interest from Championship clubs.

But the Reds’ stance appears to be that, unless a significant bid arrives, they will be willing for him to run down his contract if he does not sign a new one.

If Williams does play another competitive game for the club, as expected, it will be his 150th while he is the longest-serving first teamer at Oakwell after signing in 2018.

Corey O’Keeffe looks likely to join the Reds in the near future.

O’Keeffe may look to challenge Williams for a place in the team but one could provide extra energy off the bench or one could move to the right of back three.

Barry Cotter is the other senior right wing-back.

Clearly a talented and pacy dribbler, he could make an impact if he is also defensively solid.

He will have to improve from his performance from the midweek friendly.


Barnsley acted quickly to bring in Liam Roberts on a season-long loan from Middlesbrough the day after selling Brad Collins to Coventry City.

The Reds have had a good lineage of goalkeepers across the last couple of decades, with Collins’ predecessor being Adam Davies, who took over from Luke Steele after Heinz Muller and Nick Colgan before them.

All made the odd error but, generally, were solid and consistent.

They now need another in that series to provide a reliable presence between the sticks – which would take them much closer to being promotion candidates this year.

Roberts is well thought of in the north east despite being a back-up last season.

They have also brought in Ben Killip who has never played in League One before and spent most of 2023 on the bench for Hartlepool as they were relegated from League Two.

But he is clearly highly-rated by the Reds staff and will look to push Roberts for the number one spot.

There are some other talented goalkeepers at Oakwell but all are extremely young and inexperienced.

Collins was an excellent servant for the Reds across four years.

He was one of their top performers when they almost reached the Premier League two years ago then a strong candidate for Player of the Year the next season as they were relegated.

He had a solid if unspectacular first half of last season in League One before picking up an injury and being replaced by inspired loanee Harry Isted so had to watch the promotion push from the bench, including at Wembley.

He was always likely to leave after that but it is still a big loss as he has proven he is a very capable Championship goalkeeper.

With Isted joining Charlton, Barnsley have lost two good stoppers within a few weeks and must now start afresh in building a solid goalkeeper and centre-back unit – with new players in both positions.