Last season was all about coping with life in the Championship for Barnsley, following their promotion from League One in 2016. But the Tykes are now building for the future, with boss Paul Heckingbottom already bringing in four exciting young talents this summer.
So, who are the Barnsley newboys…and why are we tipping them for success?
The first deal struck was for St Mirren midfielder Stevie Mallan, who arrives off the back of a talismanic campaign for the Buddies, who he almost single-handedly saved from relegation last term.
Despite being more than 10 points adrift in the Ladbrokes Championship at one point last season, Mallon produced a sensational end to the campaign, scoring six goals and providing nine assists in the final nine league games to save the club from the drop on the final day.
That took his tally of assists in all competitions during 2016-17 to a hugely impressive 22. And while the opposition he’ll face south of the border will offer a slightly trickier test, there’s no doubt he’s a hugely talented player and big game performer. And at just 21-years-old, we reckon he’ll continue to improve at Oakwell.
He’s one of two players to arrive from Scottish clubs, with fellow 21-year-old Liam Lindsay arriving from Partick Thistle.
The centre-back was an integral part of Thistle’s success last term, as they secured a top-six finish in the Scottish top-flight for the first time since 1981. A towering and tough presence at the heart of defence, the youngster also offers a huge threat from set-pieces, scoring six times last term, including grabbing a goal against Celtic.
Elsewhere, the highly-rated Cameron McGeehan arrives from Luton Town, with 102 senior appearances under his belt, despite having only recently turned 22-years-old.
Despite missing a large chunk of last season through injury, the versatile midfielder – as adept on the right flank as he is in a central role – still managed to chalk up a slew of match-winning displays for the Hatters, including a stunning solo display against promotion-winning Doncaster Rovers, netting twice and running the game.
As with Mallan, he will be making a step up, but like the former St Mirren man, he’s absolutely got the skill and dynamism to handle that and progress.
Last but not least, they’ve also brought in defender Jason McCarthy. And while the youngster did fail to break into the team at parent club Southampton, he impressed hugely on loan at Wycombe Wanderers (winning the Supporters’ Player of the Year award in 2015-16), and then at Walsall, who converted him from a centre-back to a right-back.
A remarkably assured and composed performer for 21-years-old, he was a reliable ever-present in League One for the Saddlers last term, playing every minute of their league campaign. And with the ability to get forward and ping in a good cross, he’s far more than just a solid defensive performer.
With all that in mind, the 20/1 for Barnsley to win promotion in the coming campaign looks well worth a flutter. But even if they don’t mount a challenge this year, don’t expect it to be long before they’re knocking on the door of the Premier League.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing