Defender Lewin Nyatanga is close to signing a new contract with Barnsley.
The experienced centre-back is one of only two players to be offered new deals to stay at Oakwell following a summer clear-out. The Star understands Nyatanga will be offered a new two-year deal to stay and the player is likely to put pen to paper.
“It’s just a technicality,” revealed Johnson. “We want to retain him.” Youngster George Maris is the only other player to have been offered a contract to stay. The young striker penned his first professional contract with the Reds a year ago this month having impressed for the club’s U18 side.
And Johnson added: “George can produce individual brilliance but he hasn’t got the physicality. We will work on that and his tactical awareness. We are giving his body more time.”
If Johnson can keep Nyatanga and strengthen his squad for next season, the Reds may be a force to reckoned with in League One next term.
But Johnson also has to plug some gaps having allowed players to leave, including captain Martin Cranie.
Centre-back Cranie played 44 games last season and formed a successful partnership alongside Nyatanga in the heart of defence. However, Johnson is expected to sign a new defender and is confident he can mould promising youngster Mason Holgate into a star of the future.
“All the players who have been released have given their best to the club and I wish them well, but I have to free up room to put my stamp on the club,” said Johnson. “I want my team to have an identity and they don’t fit into that. It doesn’t mean they are bad players and they might flourish in someone else’s team.”
Midfielder James Bailey and Milan Lalkovic have both been put on the transfer list. “They are good players but they don’t quite have the characteristics we require,” admitted Johnson. “Those two probably won’t get many games next season if they stay. I don’t think they will have a problem getting a new club.”