BARNSLEY are closing in on their next head coach, with Daniel Stendel in the running to return as is Conor Hourihane in a different role.

It has been almost a month since the Reds sacked Neill Collins and, after they failed to bring in Austrian Dominik Thalhammer due to a work permit issue, Martin Devaney took over on an interim basis for the play-off semi-final loss to Bolton Wanderers.

The Reds’ first team are due to return to full training on Monday, July 1 with the new season starting on the weekend of August 9-11.

Stendel is thought to be a serious contender for the role, but nothing has been finalised yet and there are other coaches also under consideration.

The German led the Reds to promotion out of League One in the 2018/19 season, with a club record points tally, then was sacked months later after a poor start to the Championship season.

He had brief spells at Hearts in Scotland and Nancy in France before returning to previous club Hannover 96 as reserve team coach in 2022.

His side have won their league, and will now play in the play-offs.

He is out of contract on July 1.

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Former Barnsley captain Hourihane may also return. The Irishman, 33, is out of contract at promoted Derby County this summer.

He has been coaching on a part-time basis in Barnsley’s academy this season as he looks to launch a coaching career. If he were to rejoin the Reds – who he captained to two Wembley wins in 2016 before moving to Aston Villa in January 2017 – he would also have some form of coaching role as well as being a senior player.

Whoever comes in is likely to bring an assistant but Devaney is expected to join them as first team coach.

The Reds had been speaking to Michael Duff who led them to the play-off final a year ago, but he has joined their near neighbours Huddersfield Town instead.

MK Dons boss Mike Williamson has also been linked with the job but is understood not to be currently one of the main candidates. His side lost 8-1 on aggregate to Crawley Town in the League Two play-offs this week.

Meanwhile, some more information has come to light over the attempted hiring of Thalhammer.

Under post-Brexit rules, coaches coming to English clubs must have 36 months of experience at clubs at a certain level to automatically qualifying for a work permit.

Thalhammer did not qualify for that but the Reds hoped that, like other managers who have come to EFL clubs in the last year, he would be given a work permit by the ‘dispute panel’, but it was rejected.

Collins’ sacking was apparently unrelated to the hoped-for arrival of Thalhammer and the Scot was dismissed due to a run of two wins in 11 games and fears that the Reds would miss out on the play-offs.

While the budget has been geared to prioritise football, the Reds also have plans to improve the ground and fan experience.

They have put out to tender for an architect and surveyor to oversee an upgrade of the ground which would include general repairs, with a focus on health and safety, plus safe standing, improved food and beverage kiosks as well as a fanzone.

There are plans to use the stadium – which is now fully owned by the council with the Reds signing a long-term lease – almost 365 days a year for events on the pitch and in the hospitality areas.

They are also set to appoint a ten to 12 person ‘fan engagement board’ which would meet regularly to discuss various issues at the club.

There are stronger links being forged with Barnsley FC Community Trust, with Reds chief executive Jon Flatman now on their board – plus more guaranteed player appearances across the borough agreed.

The club is also due to launch a new website in July.