Barnsley: Johnson to give youth a chance before loans

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson

Manager Lee Johnson wants to give his current crop of players every chance to impress before turning his attention to the loan market if necessary.

Young loanees such as Ben Pearson and George Waring shone at Oakwell last season, and added strength and depth to the squad.

Johnson was keen to stress that his own youngsters would get the opportunity to stake their claim for a starting berth, but admitted that he still has the option of loans in the back of his mind.

“We don’t want to stand in the way of our young players,” said the Barnsley boss. “If it’s a case that they’re clearly better than what we’ve got then we’ll try and bring them in,

“But if they’re not, then we want to give the benefit of the doubt – certainly early on in the season – to our young talent or the players that we may sign in that position.”

Alongside those drafted in to bolster the ranks, Reds academy prospects George Smith, Mason Holgate and James Bree all stepped up to the senior squad and showed maturity on the big stage.

Johnson acknowledged the job that the loan players performed in the last campaign, but would prefer to build his team around a more long term solution.

“Personally I think loans just do a job, unless there’s potential to recruit those loans at the back end of it. We’ve had that on a couple of occasions in the past and it’s worked well.

“It’s a case of looking when we get in the last couple of weeks of pre-season, what’s needed and what’s required to kick off the season fast.

“You could say that the loans dug us out last year if we’re honest. Because some young lads came in and were exceptional, and they’ll only be better for that experience and improve next year. I wouldn’t rule anything out because they’re in a market, and that market is to make our team better.”

Free agents Omar Rowe, 20, and Iain Vigurs, 27, are currently on trial at Oakwell after being released by Southampton and Motherwell respectively in the summer.

Rowe made two first-team outings for the Saints, whilst Vigurs has more than 100 Scottish Premiership appearances. He was believed to be a transfer target for Johnson at his former club, Oldham.

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