AFTER announcing the signing of returning hero Conor Hourihane, Barnsley are now looking to build the remainder of the squad for the new season.

It has now been a month since the Reds lost to Bolton Wanderers in the semi-final of the League One play-offs.

The players have three weeks remaining of their post-season break before returning on July 1.

They will then meet new head coach Darrell Clarke who is currently working with sporting director Mladen Sormaz and the recruitment team to rebuild the squad after the exit of many of their top appearance-makers at the end of last season.

They will also be joined by Hourihane, 33, who has re-signed for the club he captained to promotion out of League One in 2016 before playing in the Premier League with Aston Villa.

The EFL summer transfer window officially opens next Friday, June 14 – then closes on August 30 – but clubs can sign players in advance.

The Chronicle understands the Reds are hopeful of announcing more signings before pre-season training starts, with the aim of having a substantial portion of their business done before Clarke begins working with the squad in training. They are thought to have submitted several bids for players.

Sormaz has previously told the Chronicle that the Reds would look to bring in a midfielder, striker, left-back and goalkeeper as a priority during this transfer window, with Clarke challenged to rejuvenate the careers of others in the squad who have not been playing and bring through youth stars.

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They have added to their midfield with Hourihane who joins Luca Connell, Adam Phillips, Josh Benson, Jon Russell, Matty Wolfe and Euros-bound Callum Styles as the current midfielders in the Reds squad.

Sormaz said they had had discussions with last season’s loan goalkeeper Liam Roberts, who is now out of contract after leaving Middlesbrough, but they have also been linked with Luke Southwood who played under Clarke at Cheltenham Town last season.

The Reds have no left wing-backs in their first team squad following the departure of Nicky Cadden, who was released along with Jordan Williams, Herbie Kane, Devante Cole and Robbie Cundy last month.

Cole, who was top-scorer last season with 18, and 15-goal loanee John McAtee were the main strikers last season but Sam Cosgrove netted three times in the play-offs and teenager Fabio Jalo is highly-rated.

They also have Max Watters, Andy Dallas, Oli Shaw and Aiden Marsh.

Some fringe players who want more minutes are set to be moved on either permanently or on loan this summer as the squad takes shape.

Barnsley have said they will only accept ‘silly money’ for their key first team players this summer – thought to mean a significant multi-million pound offer for the likes of Adam Phillips, Luca Connell and Fabio Jalo who are all under contract until 2027 or 2028 including club options.

Wolfe, who turns 24 on Thursday of next week, is the only senior player to have been offered a new contract.

The midfielder, who has been out since January 2023 with a serious knee injury, is thought to be at the end of his recovery and – if he accepts the new deal – will return to Oakwell to prove his fitness and re-start his career. Wolfe has been with the Reds since he was ten and made 33 first team appearances.

A host of last season’s under 21s and under 18s players have had an option for an extra year in their contract triggered or been offered a new deal which they are expected to sign.

The Reds were not alone in being yet to sign anyone until this week.

Fifteen of the 24 League One clubs were yet to make their first new addition for next season as of Thursday, with Barnsley’s near neighbours Rotherham United making by far the most so far with seven.