Barnsley ready to engage in busy summer of recruitment

Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom.  Picture: Bruce RollinsonBarnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Paul Heckingbottom is predicting a 'tough old summer' but is relishing the challenge of rebuilding Barnsley at the end of the season.

The Reds manager was helpless to see key men James Bree, Sam Winnall and Conor Hourihane sold off in January.

And a large number of the current Reds players will depart in the summer, as contracts expire, plus loan recruits Matty James, Gethin Jones, Ryan Kent, Saidy Janko, Callum Elder and Adam Armstrong return to their parent clubs.

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It will leave Heckingbottom with a severely depleted squad, and in need of a huge summer recruitment drive.

“It will be a tough old summer in terms of bringing players in – we are going to need a lot,” admitted Heckingbottom.

“If we are only going to be left with a dozen players, we can’t be selling them until we have got people in. Obviously, we know we need big numbers in during the summer, regardless, before we even consider selling.

“We are going to need front players in the summer, definitely.

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“We will need covers or starters all over the team. We will be looking everywhere.”

Premier League clubs have been watching the likes of Marley Watkins and Marc Roberts, but Heckingbottom is not worried about attracting interest in his remaining players.

“It’s not a concern, because if we finish the season like I want to, I would expect it, because the players are doing well,” he said.

“That’s what I want, but we have to have a plan and be ready, understand how busy we are going to be.”

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With 10 games remaining this season ahead of tomorrow’s visit from Ipswich Town, and a 12-point gap unlikely to be bridged to the play-offs, Heckingbottom is refusing to hand first-team chances out unless they are earned.

That means he will keep faith with experienced loan players, rather than gift opportunities to Oakwell’s rookies.

“It’s dangerous to try and ‘blood youngsters’ because that’s a message that the season is over,” said Heckingbottom. “We will not be doing that.

“If you reward mediocrity and give someone a place who doesn’t deserve to be in the team, what message does that send out?

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People get in the team when they deserve to be in the team.

“If I play a player just because he is going to be here next season, and he doesn’t deserve to play, then he thinks he is doing enough. They have to be doing enough to get in the team.”