Times changing at Oakwell after a busy January

North End showed an interest in Tom Bradshaw before he joined Barnsley in the summer
North End showed an interest in Tom Bradshaw before he joined Barnsley in the summer
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Barnsley’s squad was given a redesign during the January transfer window and will be on show against Preston at Oakwell this weekend.

The changes made were not necessarily by choice, more by seeing three of their key performers lured away in big-money moves.

Sam Winnall, James Bree and Conor Hourihane were the departures.

Winnall, scorer of 11 goals this season and 24 last term, joined Sheffield Wednesday in a £500,000 move.

Bree and Hourihane made the switch to Aston Villa, left-back Bree for a reported £2m and midfielder Hourihane for £3m.

The trio had played key roles in helping Barnsley adapt impressively to life in the Championship after last season’s promotion via the League One play-offs.

They are in eighth place ahead of North End’s visit and firmly in the race to challenge for the top six again.

Replacements have come in, Alex Mowatt and former Preston loanee Matty James reinforcements for midfield.

Ryan Hedges was signed from Swansea to bolster the strike force and Callum Elder has joined from Leicester on loan as Bree’s replacement.

Mowatt, a £250,000 buy from Leeds, had a debut to forget in Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat to Wolves.

He was red-carded for a two-footed tackle on Jack Price three minutes before the interval.

Suspension will rule him out of North End’s visit, with James his likely replacement.

Prior to the Wolves defeat, Barnsley had beaten Leeds and Rotherham.

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom pointed the finger at poor defending for their midweek loss.

Heckingbottom said: “We were all right apart from the goals.

“We gave them a two-goal head start from not defending set-pieces properly and teams are going to score from set-plays. Dave Edwards made the same run from the first three set-plays and got two headers but we were naive and that’s what has cost us.

“That is what we stressed after the game and that’s what costs you.

“We’ll always try and be the best team but on Tuesday night we were the worst.”

Reflecting on the changes in the squad, Heckingbottom said: “Now the hard work starts, we’ve got a changeover of players and it is too much, you can’t build anything and that’s the frustrating bit.

“You’re starting from scratch again but that’s what we will do.

“ We’ll start again and keep doing the hard work and make a real strong team.

“The difference is what we’ve done better than most is develop a good team, make sure everyone’s roles are really clear and work really hard on the training ground on those roles and hopefully the results come.”

Tom Bradshaw, a player who crossed PNE’s radar in the summer, will be in the Tykes’ squad.

The Welshman has scored five goals since his move from Walsall.