Barnsley preparing for exit of captain Marc Roberts

Barnsley's Marc Roberts. 
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Barnsley's Marc Roberts. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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HEAD COACH Paul Heckingbottom has said Barnsley aim to bring in a centre-half replacement before sanctioning any sale of captain Marc Roberts.

A number of clubs are interested in signing the in-demand defender and, despite the Reds rejecting two bids from two Championship rivals this week, the likelihood is that more offers will be tabled – and that the 26-year-old will leave shortly.

Birmingham City have a long-standing interest in Roberts, with city rivals Aston Villa also linked, alongside a third Midlands club in West Brom.

Burnley were also heavily linked with a January transfer window move.

Derby County manager Gary Rowett is also a known admirer, having seen two bids turned down for Roberts during his time as manager at St Andrew’s.

Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland are also likely to be monitoring developments with the situation regarding Roberts “ongoing” according to Heckingbottom, who said that he is unsure whether the Reds’ captain will be part of the squad who travel to Hungary on Monday for a pre-season training camp.

Barnsley mananger Paul Heckingbottom.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Barnsley mananger Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Heckingbottom said: “We have had bids in for Robbo, so that is something that is ongoing.

“But until we get something that is right for us as a club, then it is pointless doing anything because he is our captain and was excellent for us last season.

“We need to make sure we replace him before we let him go.

“Clubs are getting in touch with us and Gauthier (Ganaye – chief executive officer) is on top of that now and it is moving.

Until we get something that is right for us as a club, then it is pointless doing anything because he is our captain and was excellent for us last season

Barnsley manager, Paul Heckingbottom.

“Everybody knows he is a good player. We know he is a good player and unless it is a deal that we are happy with and we get that replacement, then it is pointless doing it.

“It has been ongoing for a while in terms of interest and everybody knows what we think of him. It is not far away.”

Roberts’s future may be up in the air, but Heckingbottom insists that the centre-half has not been affected by this week’s new developments with it being a case of business as usual – until he is told otherwise.

The grounded and down-to-earth attitude of the Penistone-born player is in keeping with someone whose footballing career has seen him work his way up from non-league circles with the likes of Wakefield, Worksop and Buxton and he remains grateful for how far he has come.

Back in February, Roberts spoke of his pride at being named as Conor Hourihane’s replacement as Reds captain, while stating that he was unaffected by relentless rumours regarding his future, insisting that he was happy at Oakwell.

On his current mindset, Heckingbottom, who confirmed that the club have fielded no bids for Andy Yiadom, said: “His answer is, ‘well until you tell me that you have accepted a bid, I am your player’.

“That’s it and it is good and refreshing and it is how it needs to be.

“Me and Robbo are carrying on as normal until a club meets our valuation and we get a replacement in.”

Roberts’s future may be taking centre stage, but Heckingbottom is also spinning the equivalent of several plates in his attempt to get more incoming deals over the line, preferably before the club travel to Hungary.

Bids are in for several unnamed players, with priorities being some striking and wing options alongside a left-back as well as that obvious defensive replacement should Roberts leave.

This week, the Reds have been strongly linked with a £500,000 move for Blackpool’s attacking midfielder Brad Potts and a bid for ex-Bradford City forward Oli McBurnie, now at Premier League club Swansea City.

Heckingbottom has admitted his interest in both, but refused to be drawn as to whether he has tabled offers for either player.

He said: “We know all about Oliver. We watched him last year when he played in the Checkatrade (Trophy) and he did well and scored goals. He stood out to us there, so he is someone we have been looking at.

“For obvious reasons, he (Potts) stood out last season with his goals and assists. But he is Blackpool’s player. We know all about Brad.”

The Reds chief added: “We are close on a number, to be honest – it’s just getting them over the line.

“I still want a good number in. Just from a training point of view, we want more bodies out there who are going to add to our first team because at the minute we are working on things which we are not necessarily going to be doing at the start of the season.

“That is our priority and we have five weeks left now.

“If we go to Hungary without extra bodies, that is four weeks.

“We will make it fit and work on other things which are still relevant for us.

“But if we are still needing big numbers in, then we are limiting their chances of starting the season if they have not had enough time with us on the grass.”