Barnsley: Reds boss targets new faces

Gary Gardner
Gary Gardner
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Reds head coach Paul Heckingbottom is still eyeing up potential incomings ahead of next week’s deadline day.

Heckingbottom was at Villa Park during their Tuesday night Carabao Cup thrashing of League One Wigan Athletic to watch Gary Gardner.

Gardner is a player Heckingbottom has had his eye on for a while as he looks to get players through the door who know the roles he wants from them.

Heckingbottom’s issue is that the quality he has does not filter through the squad and he needs more strength in depth.

With summer signings in Liam Lindsay, Zeki Fryers, Lloyd Isgrove and Cameron McGeehan all out injured, it has shown the Reds lack the options to rotate their starting line up.

Scot Stevie Mallan, who has been named in Scotland’s Under-21 squad for their European Championship qualifier against Holland on September 5, is also progressing slower than Heckingbottom would like and has failed to even break into a Championship match-day squad yet.

The same 11 players had to play three games in seven days because Heckingbottom did not want to risk an attacking six mainly consisting of teenagers.

Gardner has plenty of experience at Championship level after loan spells at Nottingham Forest (twice) and Brighton and Hove Albion. And the player is surplus to requirements at Villa Park, with the cup tie earlier in the week his only appearance so far this season.

Heckingbottom is also keen on bringing in another striker after letting Stefan Payne leave the club.

Ike Ugbo has joined on loan from Chelsea, whilst Barnsley spent almost seven figures to lure Mamadou Thiam from France.

A loan deal for Swansea’s Oli McBurnie has been “done in principle” since the start of the summer. But the Premier League outfit do not want to let him leave until Fernando Llorente is back from injury or another striker is brought in.