Reds build recruitment drive for play-off chase

Alex Kiwomya moves inside Stephen Arthurworrey.
Alex Kiwomya moves inside Stephen Arthurworrey.
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BEN MANSFORD has revealed that Barnsley have had bids accepted for a couple of highly-rated young targets – and says both will represent significant coups if the Reds land them.

The duo, a winger and a centre-back, would further add to the options of Danny Wilson, who has already wasted no time this month to get a number of deals over the line, with Alex Kiwomya, Milan Lalkovic, Ben Pearson and George Waring arriving and Peter Ramage’s loan deal extended for the rest of the season.

On the outgoing front, Devante Cole has returned to Manchester City and Reuben Noble-Lazarus moved to Rochdale on a full-time basis on Tuesday, with Mansford confirming that young striker Brad Abbott is likely to join Conference club Chester on loan to get more first-team experience.

In terms of the two players that the club are now targeting, the Reds chief executive admits that both would provide a long-term value to the club if they arrive, although they may have to play a waiting game, as it stands.

Alongside their signings, the Reds have been linked with several other players, most notably Blackburn Rovers midfielder John O’Sullivan.

Mansford told The Yorkshire Post ahead of Saturday’s short trip to Doncaster: “We have had a couple of bids accepted for a wide player and a centre-half and I think we will still look for that leader up top and on the park.

“Danny and I are trying to attract the very best players we can and we are willing to play a waiting game. If we do get them, they will be reasonable coups for us and I think people will sit up and take notice.

“We have been active to build on a busy summer and I think if we are able to do some business that helps us secure players permanently in this window, it will really help us.

“It is not just designed for this window, but a three or four transfer window progression to get a squad of our own with the right blend to compete to get us back in the Championship.”

In terms of their incoming business so far, Mansford feels that all the signings will offer something to Barnsley’s cause this season.

Slovakia-born forward Lalkovic, 22 – who has signed an-18-month deal with the Reds starting his career in England at Chelsea – was a player that the club had targeted in the summer.

The Reds had also tracked the progress of Stoke City striker Waring and Manchester United midfielder Pearson – who have both joined on loan for a month – for a good while, confirmed Mansford.

Chelsea Under-21 forward Kiwomya, who has signed for an initial month, is another player whom the Reds have monitored, with the club delighted with their early business.

Mansford added: “Very early on, we managed to keep Peter Ramage for the rest of the season, which we think is important and we had also worked on Alex for a while as we had received notification that Devante felt it was right to return to Manchester City, which we respect.

“Kiwomya adds some pace, while Lalkovic was a player we tried to secure in the summer, but, at the time, he was minded to return home.

“But it did not quite work for him and he was keen to come back here and there was quite a bit of interest in him.

“His cameo on Saturday was great and he played in the Under-21s at Crewe on Monday and was fairly infectious. We feel he will prove to be a good signing.”

On Pearson, he added: “Ben was kind of the reason why we hosted Manchester United Under-21s in the summer as we wanted to build that link. We asked (reserves coach) Warren Joyce and the powers that be at Manchester United nicely for Ben.

“The fans saw on Saturday that when he grows into the rough and tumble of League One football, he will be a fantastic acquisition.

On Waring, he added: “We weren’t able to recruit an established and proven striker and we feel George can do a job up top for us and he definitely did that on Saturday.”

In the midst of several rising young stars arriving at Oakwell – and possibly more to come – one tipped for stardom at the start of his career has headed for pastures new in Noble-Lazarus.

The Huddersfield-born attacker was afforded an early taste of the limelight in September, 2008 when he made his debut aged just 15 years and 45 days in the Reds’ 3-0 loss at Ipswich – becoming the youngest player to play in the Football League in the process.

But Noble-Lazarus, 21, has struggled to live up to the billing afforded him at the start of his career and has joined Rochdale on an 18-month deal.

Mansford, who confirmed that Barnsley do have a sell-on clause if Noble-Lazarus is sold in the future, said: “With Lalkovic, (Dale) Jennings and Kiwomya in, Reuben probably was not going to play a lot of football.

“But he goes with our best wishes.”

Barnsley have also released Keith Treacy by mutual consent.