BARNSLEY are expecting to strengthen their problem position of centre-back before the new season starts a week tomorrow.

The League One campaign begins on August 5 when the Reds host Port Vale, while the transfer window is due to close five weeks today on September 1.

The Reds have been busy this week – bringing in strikers Andy Dallas and Max Watters as well as right wing-back Corey O’Keeffe.

They are understood to be in the advanced stages of a deal with a central defender, with the hope of making a signing within the next week.

Barnsley are understood to be targeting an overseas signing for central defence, now that the FA rules have been tweaked so that League One clubs can bring in two players who would not qualify for a work permit under the initial post-Brexit points system.

They are thought to be interested in Kyran Lofthouse who played for Woking in the National League last season and is now a free agent. But he is known as a right-back.

The Reds are low on centre-backs following the departures this summer of captain Mads Andersen and loan star Bobby Thomas. Robbie Cundy and Conor McCarthy are senior players in that position but it is unlikely they will be fit to start the season after recovering from injuries. McCarthy returned to full contact training in the last week after almost year out with a knee problem while Cundy has missed much of pre-season due to injuries.

Liam Kitching, who could be named captain, has been starting in pre-season alongside summer signings Nathan James, 18, and Kacper Lopata, 21, who have both never played in the EFL.

Right wing-back Jordan Williams could be used in the back three if needed.

O’Keeffe’s arrival is not thought to make the sale of fellow right wing-back Williams more likely, the Chronicle understands.

Williams has a year left to run on his current contract but the Reds are thought to be happy for him to play out the remainder of the deal unless a significant bid comes in for him.

That same principle is thought to apply to all players, as the Reds attempt to keep this squad together as much as possible and avoid the disruption of having to find another replacement late in the window.

James Norwood has been linked by national newspapers to big-spending League Two club Wrexham. The 32-year-old striker is contracted at Oakwell for another year after the Reds triggered an extension following a successful first season which saw him net 11 goals.

The Chronicle understands that, as of yesterday, there had been no approach from Wrexham with Norwood in training this week at Oakwell.

Callum Styles and Aaron Leya Iseka are still at Oakwell having been loaned out last season, with speculation about their future. Styles – who started Saturday’s friendly at Blackburn Rovers – is thought to have a £2million release clause in his contract while Iseka is one of the highest-paid players at the club.

Belgian striker Iseka is yet to feature in any pre-season matches and the Reds would like to move him on if they can.

The Reds have so far brought in seven players – goalkeepers Ben Killip and Liam Roberts, centre-backs Lopata and Jack Shepherd, right wing-back O’Keeffe and strikers Dallas and Watters.

James was signed for the under 21s but has played in first team friendlies.

The Reds sold goalkeeper Jamie Searle to Forest Green for an undisclosed fee.

The 22-year-old New Zealand international came off the bench in a league win at Cambridge United last season and started an EFL Trophy victory over Newcastle United.

Barnsley are due to host Crewe Alexandra in their final friendly tomorrow from 3pm, with the club’s open day at Oakwell from 11am.