Championship rivals were watching and not just those with vested interests in the relegation battle at the bottom of the table either.
Others who usually compete higher up in the Championship and have the resources to match have been duly taking note.
Amid Barnsley’s tale of 2019-20, there were success stories from the leadership and drive of Alex Mowatt, who has now entered into the final year of his current Reds contract – with talks ongoing regarding a new deal.
The goals input of Cauley Woodrow for three quarters of last season and the continued development of the likes of Jacob Brown and Conor Chaplin has also not escaped the attentions of second-tier clubs.
Others also delivered tantalising glimpses of their potential, especially during the season’s dramatic dénouement during high summer.
Performances put players in the shop window, much like the displays in recent seasons gone by of the likes of Conor Hourihane, Ethan Pinnock, Alfie Mawson and Sam Winnall – and many others before them – which alerted clubs with deeper pockets.
Struber candidly admits that is something he must now deal with – as some of Barnsley’s players become aware of covetous glances from some well-resourced rivals.
As many of the Austrian’s predecessors at Oakwell will attest, it is an occupational hazard.
Head coach Struber said: “I think most of the players are very happy to be here. But the transfer time is always a challenge. On the one side, sometimes you have players who you must find a solution for and a new club.
“Sometimes, we have to bring a big power in the squad to save (keep) the players. It is always a challenge and it is an interesting one that I have.
“It is not so easy. Many players bring a very good performance in the final phases (of last season). It is not easy to save in this way.
“I think I will save all the players and bring the players in. (But) I think this is more a question, in the end, for our owners.”
Should Struber have his way, several players will be added to Barnsley’s ranks, although he is still relaxed with the transfer window open for another month and business able to be concluded domestically until mid-October. For the time being, the priority is keeping hold of something akin to the ‘family silver’. Not for the first time at Barnsley.
Struber continued: “We look in the market to see which players can help us. We need a squad which is a little bigger.
“We have big goals this season and need a squad which is bigger with special key players.
“But the big challenge is to save (keep) the players here. We have players who are also interesting other clubs.
“The project is to make the next step interesting for many players here. The relationship with the players is on a very good level and this is helpful.
“But I am not stupid and I understand when players get big offers and we have, for one or two players, the situation that we fight for them to stay here. It is not easy and it is a big fight.
“The first big topic is to save the players and the other one is that we bring interesting players here to Barnsley.
“This is not so easy, from the financial side, bringing the right players with high skills.
“We need players to help the team from the first second – and not always having the same situation where we have to grow and develop players and maybe next season, they are ready for the Championship.
“We need a good balance. We have many talents in the squad and we need players who have professional experience who can make the young talents better.
“We work for that. We have no stress. We have one and a half months time to bring the right players.”
One player who Barnsley have an ongoing interest in is Doncaster Rovers captain Ben Whiteman, 24 – someone who meets Struber’s criteria in terms of experience and adaptability.
So far, several Barnsley bids for the midfielder – contracted at Rovers until June 2023 – have fallen significantly short of their neighbours’ valuation, with other second-tier clubs interested in the ex-Sheffield United player.
Struber, who is without only Ben Williams and Romal Palmer for Saturday’s Carabao Cup home tie with Nottingham Forest at Oakwell, added: “Ben is a very interesting player. He showed me that he can play in a good style in League One.
“He is an interesting player for us and we will see what the next days bring with him.
“I watched many games from him in League One and have the impression he could be a very good player for us and learn very quickly.
“To get him is not so easy and it is a competition right now and we will see.”
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