Opportunity knocks as four are ruled out injured

Selective: Reds boss Keith Hill is careful who he signs on loan. '     Picture: dean atkins
Selective: Reds boss Keith Hill is careful who he signs on loan. ' Picture: dean atkins
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BARNSLEY take on Championship league leaders Southampton tomorrow with new signing Frank Nouble having bolstered their squad.

As exclusively revealed by The Star yesterday, West Ham loan striker Nouble has joined the club on an initial one-month loan deal, with the option of a possible extension subject to performances.

But Reds’ boss Keith Hill will be without the injured David Perkins, Bobby Hassell, Rob Edwards and Jim O’Brien for the club’s trip to St Mary’s.

Midfielder Perkins remains sidelined with a knee injury, as does defender Hassell, while centre-back Edwards is struggling with a hamstring injury and winger O’Brien is out with a problematic groin injury.

“All four of them are key players for us, but that means there’s opportunities for other players,” Hill told The Star.

“I’d like to recruit four or five players because the squad is a bit thin on the ground, but I’m not going to sign anyone unless I feel as though they can do a decent job for us.

“I’m not keen on using lots of loan players, but it’s a case of needs-must. Thankfully we haven’t had any stinkers this season.

“We get calls from agents all the time recommending players, players they think would benefit from working with us.

“But you’ve got to be selective in who you sign because there’s a certain expectation there from what we want and need.”

Hill has had to re-build the backbone of his side this season following the departure of former leading scorer Ricardo Vaz Te to West Ham.

Manchester United loan midfielder Danny Drinkwater signed for Leicester City just a few days after extending his loan spell at Oakwell until the end of the season, while skipper and rising star Jacob Butterfield - who won England Under-21 international recognition this season - was ruled out for the rest of the season with a medial knee ligament injury.

“We’ve had to be selective and that’s why we’ve brought Frank in, he represents good value for money,” added Hill. “There’s no risk for us.”

This weekend’s clash with the Saints will undoubtedly be a tough test for Hill’s charges, especially having lost their last four matches on the road.

But Hill, who received criticism this week for his remarks that some “pessimistic” Barnsley fans were hurting the club and affecting his players, showed his funny side when he joked: “I expect us to beat them [Southampton] 6-0, they’re probably the worst team in the league”.

He added, continuing to be tongue-in-cheek,: “We’ve got miles better players than them and I’m going there expecting to win. If we don’t win I expect to be sacked. Apparently I’m too pessimistic in my interviews about the opposition.

“But seriously they’re a very good side and Nigel Adkins is a very good manager. They’re an extremely talented side who work hard - and that’s a great combination.”