BARNSLEY’S sporting director Mladen Sormaz has highlighted four key positions in which they will look to recruit this summer but appeared to play down the idea they were definitely set for a major rebuild of the squad.

They are yet to sign any new players but have been in advanced talks with former captain Conor Hourihane.

The Reds released their four top appearance-makers from last season in striker Devante Cole, midfielder Herbie Kane and full-backs Jordan Williams and Nicky Cadden.

Those exits of well-paid players, investment from the owners, and an apparent focus on prioritising the footballing budget over other areas of the business, mean the Reds will have a ‘significantly bigger budget’ than last season.

Many have expected the number of incomings to be in double figures but Sormaz – who is working with new head coach Darrell Clarke to build the squad – appears to think differently.

He told the Chronicle: “We think, when you look at the core of the team, when everyone’s fit, defence is really strong.

“We obviously need a new left back/left wing-back.

“We’re tying down a permanent solution for the ‘keeper.

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“We need a Devante replacement and a Kane replacement.

“But the rest of the first team, we want to keep where it is.”

Sormaz hinted that Clarke would be tasked with getting more out of players who have been out on loan or not playing regularly.

They could include strikers such as Max Watters, Oli Shaw and Andy Dallas.

There will also be more youth players training with the first team.

Sormaz said: “We think a lot of the rest of the squad can contribute going forward. There will be change but we’re not looking for turnover for the sake of turnover.

“We’re really focused on bringing players in who will definitely improve us as starters then do what is best for the rest of the squad.

“If there are fringe players who aren’t going to get minutes, we will make that clearer from earlier in the season and make sure they can get football somewhere.”

The majority of last season’s loan players, including star striker John McAtee, are not expected to return.

Last season’s loan goalkeeper Liam Roberts – who is out of contract after leaving Middlesbrough – played for Clarke at Walsall.

Sormaz said: “We’re having conversations with a lot of the loan players.

“Anyone who performed well last season on loan, we’re exploring that avenue. It’s up to them what else is on the market or whether they want to come back. I think he (Roberts) had a good time but we’ll work on that.”

The Reds have also been linked with goalkeeper Luke Southwood who played under Clarke last season at Cheltenham and is now a free agent.

Meanwhile, Barnsley have tended to sell at least one first team star every summer. This year the most likely to attract bids look to be midfielders Adam Phillips and Luca Connell, as well as teenage striker Fabio Jalo.

Sormaz said: “We don’t want to sell.

“No one is on a list.

“Someone would have to come in with silly money for any of our best players to leave.

“The good thing with all those players is we have them locked down on long-term contracts so we have leverage and the ball is in our court.

“We don’t want anyone who can contribute next year, especially at the top end of League One, to leave.

“Really really massive offers could come in, that can always happen in football, but we don’t have any plans to let them go.”

On the released first team players, Sormaz said: “There were discussions with all of them but, at some point, you just have to call it and figure out what is best for them and us.”