Mellis poised for Reds debut against strugglers

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BARNSLEY manager Mark Robins plans on making Jacob Mellis a more “complete player” after securing the young midfielder’s services before the transfer window closed yesterday.

Robins beat off competition from a number of clubs to sign the 20-year-old on loan until the end of the season from Premier League giants Chelsea.

The Reds boss, who also swooped for West Ham striker Frank Nouble, believes Mellis is a “big talent” and has the ability to flourish in the Championship.

“Jacob is a real talent,” said Robins. “Technically he is very good; he glides across the pitch and the only thing he lacks at this level is experience.

“He is a Nottingham lad but he knows the area having started out at Sheffield United. All that matters are performances on the pitch and hopefully we will be able to bring the best out of a young lad who has not played in the Championship prior to now.

“He is a big talent. I have no qualms with him on the attacking side; it is just how he handles the other side of the game like tracking back,

“Jacob can play central midfield and when he goes back to Chelsea, I want him to be a more complete player.”

Mellis, who made his debut two months ago as a substitute for the Blues in a Champions League tie against Slovakian side Zilina, spent four months on loan at Southampton last season.

The attacking midfielder is expected to make his Barnsley bow when Robins’ side entertain basement club Preston tonight, kick-off 7.45pm.

Robins will keep faith with first-choice pairing Garry O’Connor and Danny Haynes up front because Nouble’s deal did not get completed in time for him to be included.

Preston, boosted by the arrival of Ian Ashbee from Hull City, saw their relegation showdown with Scunthorpe United called off because of a frozen pitch at the weekend.

Managed by Phil Brown, the Lilywhites have gone six matches without a win and are six points adrift of safety. Spearheading their attack will be former Reds players Paul Hayes and Iain Hume.

Robins added: “Iain and Paul will want to comeback and do well but we are keen to keep them quiet. We have to concentrate on producing a 90-minute performance and getting back on track.”