IT is rightfully viewed as Barnsley’s unique selling point – or USP in modern-day terminology.
Namely, the ability to recruit young and hungry emerging players and hand them the stage to impress and evolve, with the cream of the crop being sold on at profit to further their careers, with the coffers healthily swelled.
As modus operandi go, it is one which many in the English Football League can do well to follow.
But here lies the conundrum and it is something that head coach Daniel Stendel is aware of.
The Reds’ greatest strength of handing opportunities to talented young players with no fear, energy and willingness in abundance is likely to be viewed as their biggest weakness by some Championship sages.
The talent pool at Oakwell may be high, but the lack of bonafide second-tier experience, exacerbated by this week’s loss of Adam Davies and Liam Lindsay, is also stark to the keen observer.
The only player who can qualify for the term of ‘Championship regular’ so for in his career is Alex Mowatt, followed at a push by Cauley Woodrow.
Others have dipped their toes at that level such as Kieffer Moore, Daniel Pinillos and Ethan Pinnock, but for the vast majority who step out in 2019-20, it will be a brave new world.
Pleased with his side’s recruitment so far he may be, but Stendel – despite being a Championship first-timer himself – has seen enough of it to ascertain that a subtle infusion of experience in the Reds’ ranks will boost their hopes of consolidation and thriving – and help his players immeasurably along the way.
Like everyone connected with the club, Stendel shares the excitement at pitting their collective wits against a number of big-city ex-Premier League sides. Yet he is aware of the step up in class in a sometimes unforgiving league. Speaking with inherent logic, Stendel said: “We improved the players so much last season, but it is normally easier to improve players in League One than in the Championship.
“We work every day to improve the team and the players, but we do not have so much time in the Championship.
“We will work together for the best solution for this club of young players of quality with players of experience that we need for a successful season.
“I hope we find the right solutions in the next weeks.
“The club have a philosophy to sign young players that can improve and have potential, but I think we also need some players with experience for the Championship, which is a tough league,” he added.
The Reds did plump for an ‘experienced’ option in age terms this week in the shape of new goalkeeper Sami Radlinger, 26, – the first over-25s signing since Matt Mills in January 2018.
Yet it should be tempered by the fact that Austria-born Radlinger is starting out in many ways after swapping the continent for England, with the keeper having to acclimatise to the Championship like most of his team-mates.
Both he and fellow recruit Brad Collins – who has decent experience at Burton Albion and Forest Green – will battle it out in pre-season for the right to be handed the first opportunity to stake a claim for the No 1 spot following Davies’s exit for Stoke, with Stendel being open-minded.
He said: “We start in pre-season (after fitness work this week) on Monday and both have the chance to win the duel.
“I have some ideas why we signed both with their abilities. We want to change some things and I hope they can help us win the games in the Championship.
“Jack (Walton) and Jake (Greatorex) are two young goalkeepers with good qualities.
“But for me and the club, given the experience from the last season in the Championship, it was important we needed two goalkeepers who can play every game. This is a real competition to play.
“It is a long season and there is higher quality in this league,” he added.
Elsewhere, Stendel is targeting some added defensive options following the exit of two centre-halves, for differing reasons, in Lindsay and Adam Jackson, with some additions on the flanks also on his list of priorities.
One target linked with the club this week is Leeds United winger Mallik Wilks, with Stendel admitting that he is a player who he likes.
On Wilks, he added: “I think he is a very good player.
“When I look back at last season, I think in the games against Doncaster, both the home and away games were difficult and very close and he was one player who played very well against us.
“We have some good players in our head and maybe we can maybe sign one or two players that we want.
“But we will see what happens in the next weeks.”