Barnsley: Heckingbottom ready to ward off bids for his star players

Sam Winnall has been in fine form this season
Sam Winnall has been in fine form this season

Barnsley look like they will have to ward off a barrage of bids to keep their best players.

Head coach Paul Heckingbottom has previously said transfer rumours surrounding his players were mere “January speculation”.

However, it looks as though offers could be coming in thick and fast for a group of players who helped the Reds secure promotion back to the Championship through the play-offs last term.

The Reds’ remarkable rise over the last 18 months has not gone unnoticed and with players such as Conor Hourihane, Sam Winnall, James Bree and Marley Watkins all out of contract in the summer, it has put clubs on red alert to secure their services.

Newspaper speculation has linked Sheffield Wednesday with a £500,000 move for Winnall, while Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce was in the stands for the club’s goalless FA Cup draw against Blackpool on Saturday.

Hourihane has been a Villa Park target for a few weeks now, but Bruce could be readying a £4million bid for promising right-back Bree - who would become the third defender to come through the Oakwell academy and move on in the past few years.

John Stones, now at Manchester City, and Mason Holgate both swapped Oakwell for the bright lights of the Premier League with Everton in recent times.

The Reds also lost defender Alfie Mawson to Swansea City in a £5million deal in the summer.

Villa may not offer the luxury of top-flight football, but in terms of wages whatever Barnsley could offer the youngster would be a mere drop in the ocean compared to what the Midlands club could.

Winnall is also on a shortlist of strikers to replace Scott Hogan at Brentford.

Hogan is expected to move to West Ham United for a fee in the region of £15million, with Winnall tipped as one of the potential replacements at Griffin Park.

Winger Jake Charles has returned to the club following his loan spell at York City.