Johnson aiming to assemble a settled group at Barnsley

Lee Johnson is confident of keeping his best players during the January transfer 'window
Lee Johnson is confident of keeping his best players during the January transfer 'window

Barnsley manager Lee Johnson reckons consistency within his squad is key as he continues to search for new signings.

The first half of Barnsley’s season saw them slump into the Skybet League One drop zone, with Johnson turning to a number of loanees in a bid to improve his side’s fortunes.

But he admitted that the long term project at Oakwell is to put together a settled group capable of challenging at the top of the division.

“It is frustrating because you’re constantly having to rebuild,” said Johnson.

“If you look at the sides that are up there doing well they’ve had long term thinking and they’ve brought in players that they feel they can build around.

“I believe that’s the way to go. We’re not quite there yet because we’re waiting for our underbelly to flourish and come through.

“People like James Bree have been training really well and now you’d feel really comfortable with putting him in to that starting 11.”

The Reds have brought in Manchester United starlet Ashley Fletcher, as well as extending Lloyd Isgrove’s loan and tying up a permanent deal for Aidan White.

But with gaps to fill, particularly in central midfield and up front, Johnson was keen to stress how difficult the January window can be to negotiate cost-effective deals.

“In January it’s a really difficult market because people scrap to keep their best players,” he added.

“It’s expensive to buy the best players so you’ve got to get the ones that are match fit and have had games, but still want to come or you can afford and are able to bring in.

“Sometimes you’ve got to trust it and go with the group of players that you believe in, and of course you stand and fall by how they do.”

Star men such as Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall have been linked with moves away from Oakwell, but Johnson said he is confident of keeping hold of his best players.