Neill Collins on his intriguing selection quandary regarding who will replace injured Barnsley FC defender Kacper Lopata against Blackpool

BARNSLEY head coach Neill Collins admits to having a significant selection quandary as to who will step into the breach this weekend for centre-half Kacper Lopata, who will be sidelined for a short spell with a shoulder injury.

The former Sheffield United defender, impressive so far in his maiden season at the club, has undergone a minor operation. He was present at the midweek EFL Trophy game against Manchester City with his arm in a sling after suffering the injury in last weekend’s League One win at Northampton Town.

Jack Shepherd, who has caught the eye in his debut season in EFL football, close-season recruit Mael de Devigney and fit-again Conor McCarthy are all vying to replace Lopata, with Collins having a decision to make ahead of Saturday's League One home game with Blackpool.Collins said: "We are going to miss Kasper in the short-term with a shoulder injury. We have actually no idea how long it will be.

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"It's very disappointing as he's obviously been a key part of a lot of positive things we have done. But it is a chance for someone else. As we saw with Jack Shepherd and Conor McCarthy the other night, they are all eager and ready to play.

Barnsley boss Neill Collins. Picture: Bruce RollinsonBarnsley boss Neill Collins. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Barnsley boss Neill Collins. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

"Jack has come in and done really well, Mael has been excellent in training and I thought he did excellent the other night. It's just a different environment.

"Conor is coming back from an ACL and Nathan James has really impressed and is pushing for selection. We do have options, with three games coming up and I'm sure they will all be eager to get an opportunity at some point."

Collins remains hopeful that Lopata will only be out for a short period, with the player himself hoping to return to action next month.

The Reds chief said: "We have seen players recover quite quickly from this type of injury and also take a bit more time. If Kasper's attitude is anything to go by, he won't be out for too long."