Championship side Barnsley have had a mixed start to the season under Markus Schopp, losing just one of their opening five games but also winning just one.
Falling to turn draws into wins has been the issue for the Austrian manager thus far, although they can take great heart from their away ties at Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers.
Winning two points from a possible two doesn’t seem that impressive on paper – but both the Bluebirds and the R’s are likely to be near the top of the table next May – so they will be confident of improving on the 14th position they currently find themselves in.
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At this stage with their former boss and captain leaving for West Bromwich Albion in the past couple of months, stability is the one thing that’s needed the most at Oakwell and the new manager has seemingly provided that, giving them the platform to push on this season and at least secure a respectable finish.
They may not reach the heights they were able to last season – and who could blame them with the departures of key men Valerien Ismael, Alex Mowatt and Daryl Dike since the end of last season.
The Tykes have brought in reinforcements this summer with Obbi Oulare and Aaron Leya Iseka arriving as particularly eye-catching signings – and defensive midfielder Claudio Gomes joining on loan yesterday from Premier League champions Manchester City.
Now the summer transfer window is finally closed, we are taking a look at the best starting lineup the Tykes could field ahead of their next set of games after the international break. Some of these picks may be controversial, so let us know what you think!
Brad Collins has to start in goal as a safe pair of hands for the Championship side ahead of Jack Walton. At 24, he could potentially become a long-serving goalkeeper at Oakwell and has already won his side two points on his own this season, saving a late Viktor Gyokeres to secure a vital 1-0 win against Coventry City earlier this month.
This has turned out to be their only league win of the season thus far, so he may have just played a huge role in giving Barnsley a platform to build on for the rest of the campaign.
Moving on to the defence, it would be good to see Callum Styles in the middle again but the 21-year-old has done a fine job on the left and has slotted in their seamlessly. If he’s given the opportunity to start there every matchday, it could potentially become his best position.
He’s shown such maturity for his reasonably young age, so it was no surprise to see him attract interest from the Premier League already.
At centre-back, it has to be Michael Helik and Mads Juel Andersen in there as two top-quality players that proved to be key under former boss Valerien Ismael. They then have two young options in Liam Kitching and Toby Sibbick to start alongside them, with both of them playing together earlier this season in Andersen’s absence.
It’s a tough one – but Sibbick probably starts ahead of his direct competitor Kitching with Callum Brittain continuing at right wing-back and Jordan Williams pushing him for his starting spot. This position is one to keep an eye on because both will be pushing hard to start every week under Schopp. This competition can only be a good thing.
In midfield, you can bet the Tykes wish they had Alex Mowatt at their disposal. But with Josh Benson arriving from Burnley this summer as a fresh face and Romal Palmer remaining at the club, they still have a good midfield and one that could help in their quest to rise up the table.
Benson, 21, and Palmer, 22, could even end up being a long-term duo at Oakwell and will only get better with more experience. It’s certainly a reason for Barnsley fans to be excited with Claudio Gomes also coming in on a loan deal from Manchester City yesterday.
He will need to prove his worth in the Championship first though before getting into the starting lineup.
Here comes the most interesting part. Cauley Woodrow starts up top as the Tykes’ skipper and a major threat to Championship defences – not many people would argue with this even with Aaron Leya Iseka’s arrival from Toulouse. But who starts either side of him?
Carlton Morris is still likely to be out for another month with his knee injury – but he comes straight back into the starting lineup when he returns to full fitness after recording an impressive 10 goal contributions in 23 league appearances last term.
This risks Dominik Frieser being left out – but after scoring two goals in five Championship matches this season and becoming a revelation under Markus Schopp – he deserves to keep his place until new signing Obbi Oulare makes his case to be a regular starter.