Barnsley back Hill with cash for loan striker

Keith Hill
Keith Hill
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BARNSLEY director Don Rowing has confirmed that funds have been made available to boss Keith Hill to bring in a loan striker to prevent their season descending from a drama into a full-blown crisis.

The Reds are in the midst of an alarming run of one victory in their past eight Championship games and are just one place above the relegation zone following their latest reverse – a 2-0 loss at Derby County on Tuesday night.

Hill’s side, who go into Saturday’s home derby with Huddersfield Town on the back of three successive defeats, are seriously missing the firepower of injured top-scorer Craig Davies, who has hit seven of Barnsley’s 15 league goals this term, with only rock-bottom Ipswich Town having netted fewer times.

Ex-Chesterfield frontman Davies is likely be out for several more weeks with a hamstring problem, with the Reds’ other strikers having contributed just one league goal between them in 2012-13.

The Oakwell outfit’s poor form, just four league wins from 15 this season and eight from 37 Championship matches this calendar year, is causing deep-seated worry and disquiet among the Barnsley faithful.

For his part, ex-Rochdale chief Hill is increasingly revealing his frustrations on a regular basis and as recently as Monday admitted a “breaking point” was potentially looming, either between himself and the board or himself and the fans.

Hill also went onto claim on Monday that getting to 50 points and staving off the drop this season would be as big an achievement as somebody walking a tightrope with two broken legs, despite the fact Barnsley have reached that tally in every campaign since returning to the Championship in 2006.

The only exception was last season, Hill’s first in charge, when the Reds managed just 48 and were effectively saved from the drop only by Portsmouth’s 10-point deduction.

Rowing said: “From our point of view, we have been here before and had these tough times. At the end of the day, we realise there is a problem in terms of an injury to our main striker and money has been made available to the manager to bring a player in, certainly until well into the January period, to cover for that position.

“It is difficult in terms of getting the teams in your division or another club to help you when you are struggling a little bit. Sometimes they are loath to do that because they want to keep you where you are, so that they are not in that position.

“It is a very difficult one. But hopefully, we will keep plugging away and get someone who will come in who will help solve the goal drought.

“We are trying and recognise we do need someone and that is why we have made the decision to make money available for him (Hill) to do that.”

Hill’s sense of unease was ironically first manifested in the wake of the Reds’ stunning 5-0 televised victory over Birmingham at St Andrews on September 22 – with national reports the next day suggesting that if an Italian consortium rumoured to be keen on taking over at Oakwell did purchase the club the 43-year-old would be shown the door.

Despite ongoing speculation, there have been no concrete developments on a possible take-over since, with the Reds – whose owner Patrick Cryne is desperate to sell – appointing former Liverpool and Middlesbrough player and football agent David Hodgson to find a buyer for the club.

On the pitch, the blow suffered by Davies, the latest in a number of episodes of injury misfortune for the Reds – whose marquee summer signing Mido has still yet to kick a ball in anger – has added to Hill’s sense of frustration.

The news that the board will do all they can to enable Hill to bring in a new forward should calm potentially troubled waters and lift sagging spirits for the arrival of Town, although Rowing is adamant that there are no problems behind the scenes at Oakwell.

Regardless of the increasingly pressured situation, Hill is vowing to fight on and save the club from relegation and will not walk away, having received assurances regarding his future, according to Rowing.

And the director is calling on all concerned at the club to put on a united front in a bid to inspire a much-needed victory over derby rivals Town, which could transform their campaign.

On the frustrations felt by Hill, Rowing added: “At the end of the day, that is probably the pressure coming through.

“I just have to deal with the business side of it and that is purely and simply stopping this run of defeats as soon as we can and helping Keith to do that.

“Everyone that works for Barnsley Football Club really wants us to win against Huddersfield on Saturday. I can assure people that every game which we win makes our job much, much easier.

“There is no doubt everyone here is kicking the ball when they are watching the game and there are no problems at all off the pitch. It is just purely and simply, the longer you go without a win, the greater the pressure builds. It is basically the same with any football club.

“We have to concentrate on the job in hand. What has gone is gone and we must look forward.

“We just need a goal to go in off someone’s backside for us to win a game which will hopefully change our fortunes.”

Hill has been actively seeking a striker for some time but admitted earlier this week that it is a difficult position to recruit for.