Gerhard Struber searching for a defensive kingpin to keep Barnsley up

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TO BE fair to Gerhard Struber, it took him days and not weeks to deduce what was the big problem that Barnsley needed to fix in the January transfer window.

If his early press conferences towards the end of autumn hinted at it, his observations almost two months into his tenure as head coach at Oakwell have confirmed it in no uncertain terms.

Barnsley's head coach Gerhard Struber.

Barnsley's head coach Gerhard Struber.

For all of the Reds’ vibrancy and restoration of their attacking mojo under Struber, they still badly need a defensive leader to harden their survival plan.

Someone in the ‘last line’ as Struber put it when speaking to the press ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Bristol City.

The Austrian confirmed that priority on Thursday lunch-time. He also stressed that the arrival of such a major addition is not dependent on fringe players going out first to create room in the transfer budget.

After talks with the hierarchy, he has been given the green light to bring in an experienced defensive enforcer to help mend a rearguard who have let in a hefty fifty goals in 27 league games so far this term. Too many.

The organisational qualities required to ensure that a backline stops producing a regular surfeit of silly mistakes will be just as key, with a microcosm of the Reds’ problems arriving in an error-riden 3-2 loss at Blackburn in Struber’s opening game on November 23.

It was a game that a more defensively-savvy team would have won comfortably.

Struber said: “I think when I see the statistics in defending, we have a top statistic around the whole team.

“The only situation what we have is the individual mistakes. This is our problem.

“We need one player with the high quality in the back-line and it is very, very important to stay in the league.

“All of us in the management are responsible to do it – to buy or to loan a new player that can help us for our big goal. That is the next big task in the next week.”

While Struber is focusing on quality as opposed to quantity in terms of incoming business between now and the transfer deadline, he is also preparing the way for more outgoings to make his squad tighter.

Cameron McGeehan and Jordan Green have already headed out on loan for the remainder of the season, to Portsmouth and Newport County respectively and the Reds head coach fully expects more to follow in the next week.

The likes of Dimitri Cavare, Mamadou Thiam, Mallik Wilks and Dani Pinillos have options, according to Struber, who also revealed that the development of young defender Toby Sibbick, whose last appearance in the league was on December 11, may also benefit from a loan move.

Struber, who confirmed that first-choice keeper Sami Radlinger will miss tomorrow’s game due to sickness, said: “Toby is also a talent and it is not so easy for him with no game time. We also speak to him about the situation maybe for a loan.

“Now it is difficult for him and maybe we have a good exchange with him and we give him a loan situation.”