Barnsley: Cauley Woodrow injury forces transfer window rethink at Oakwell

MOST observers would suggest with some justification that central midfield is the key priority for Barnsley to address in the current transfer window – if they are to give themselves any realistic chance of somehow salvaging their sorry 2021-22 campaign.

Bringing in another striker is now surely just as paramount, given the events of this week.

This despite the fact that Reds will not kick a ball in anger after the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled Championship home game with Blackpool.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The club informed the English Football League on Thursday that they would be unable to play a second successive Oakwell fixture due to a number of positive Covid-19 cases and injuries within their squad which ensured that Wednesday’s match against Stoke City at Oakwell was also called off.

Barnsley striker Cauley Woodrow. Picture: Tony Johnson

Wednesday also had further significance following the news that captain and joint top-scorer Cauley Woodrow has undergone knee surgery. He will not be back on deck any time soon.

Head coach Poya Asbaghi has not given a specific timescale on Woodrow’s likely period on the sidelines, but the fact that he spoke about his situation being reviewed on a monthly basis as opposed to a weekly one said enough.

It should mean, at least, that Woodrow will remain a Barnsley player at the close of the current window. But it remains to be seen when he can be called upon again.

Woodrow had previously been the subject of January transfer speculation until this untimely development.

Cauley Woodrow and Poya Asbahgi. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

In regards to talk of new arrivals – and potential outgoings for that matter – Asbaghi plays his cards close to his chest.

He did speak on Thursday about the club hierarchy and him having a ‘clear picture’ of the areas to be addressed. It’s something at the very least.

For everyone’s sake, that must include the necessity for reinforcements up front, given the fact that Barnsley were already a senior striker light given Dominik Frieser’s recent return to the continent.

It is also heightened by the fact that they are effectively another forward down given Obbi Oulare’s nightmare spell at the club which has entered Reds folklore for all the wrong reasons.

Barnsley’s fit forwards have scored a lamentable total of just eight Championship goals between them this term and perish the thought of what would happen if Carlton Morris suffered an injury.

Asbaghi will not need to be told that twice.

He said: “Maybe, the injury situation is also something to consider when it comes to the transfer window. I don’t think the Covid situation has too much influence.

“I know the club and people above me have a pretty clear picture of where we might need to strengthen. As a coach, we share common views and let’s see what the future brings. At least, I can confirm it is a pretty clear picture.

“It is not my job to be confident. I just know we are having a good dialogue. I trust the job people are doing.

“But I cannot speculate about whether this will happen or that will happen. Let’s see what the future brings. It’s no comment (on specifics), basically.

“There is not too much left (of the window) and if there are any players coming, I don’t think it will be too long before it happens. Let’s see.

“The club are not excluding any option or limiting any country. They have a pretty wide and broad picture where they choose players from.”

On the situation with Woodrow, the head coach continued: “Cauley is injured and unfortunately, he will not be back soon. 

“He went through a surgery and we will see and we will, of course, give him good time to make sure his rehabilitation is in a good way. Let’s see what the future brings.

“But we can definitely rule him out for the short term. We have to take it month to month and not week for week, that’s all we can say.”

Meanwhile, Asbaghi did confirm that he is more ‘optimistic’ regarding the situation with the fitness of defender Michal Helik, who came off in the Reds’ final game of 2021 at Blackburn Rovers with a thigh/quad issue.

The Polish international missed last weekend’s FA Cup game with Barrow.

Asbaghi added: “With Misha (Helik), we are not worried he will be out for too long. 

“Of course, he must be fit to play, but let’s see what the up-coming weeks can give. We are, of course, more optimistic in terms of his comeback.”

This week’s dual postponements mean that Barnsley must fit in two more fixtures into their itinerary, with the club last stepping out at Oakwell for a league fixture back on December 17.

On the latest postponement, Asbaghi commented: “We don’t have 14 (first-team) players available to play the game. 
We have had new (Covid) cases this week. Those from last week are not back yet.”