CONOR McCarthy could return to Barnsley’s first team matchday squad after almost a year out at Cheltenham Town tomorrow but Josh Benson and Liam Kitching are unlikely to join him.

Captain Kitching was left out of Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wigan with a groin problem which had troubled him all season.

The centre-back has also been the subject of interest from Coventry City but the Reds say they are determined to keep him beyond this transfer window which shuts this evening.

On Kitching’s chances of playing, head coach Neill Collins said: “There is always a chance but I think we will probably err on the side of caution.”

Centre-back Conor McCarthy has now been back in full training for six weeks following a serious knee injury sustained last September.

He played 90 minutes for the under 21s on Tuesday and assisted the first goal.

Midfielder Josh Benson is back in full training following surgery on an ankle injury sustained in May’s play-off final.

He played 65 minutes for the under 21s in midweek.

Barnsley host Grimsby in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday, with some of the returning players likely to be involved.

Collins said: “Josh is not quite ready for consideration for the weekend.

“But Conor is fighting for his spot now.

“We have a game against Grimsby on Tuesday where I expect to see these guys playing.”

Midfield star Luca Connell has not played this season after coming down with an illness in pre-season for which he is now being treated.

It is hoped he could return to full training in September.

This week, Connell was included in the PFA League One Team of the Year

Collins said: “It’s great to know we have one of the best players in the league to come back.

“He is on the road to recovery, but it’s very early stages.

“I am looking forward to getting him back. He is walking around the training pitch at the moment.”

Centre-back Robbie Cundy remains sidelined with a glute problem.

Young midfielder Joe Ackroyd is also coming back from a knee injury.