Barnsley manager Neill Collins isn’t concerned that some of his loan stars could be recalled in January, despite the possibility that goalkeeper Liam Roberts could return to Middlesbrough.
The 29-year-old joined the Yorkshire club on a season-long loan in July and was immediately thrust into the starting lineup. He appeared in all 12 of Barnsley’s opening League One fixtures, but then suffered a finger injury which required surgery.
The shotstopper is now edging closer to a return, with Collins confirming in his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Wycombe Wanderers that he is hoping to call upon his services in the coming weeks. Via Yorkshire Post, the 40-year-old said;
“I don’t think he’s too far away. I think it’s day by day now.
“He can do a couple of things with his hands aerially and he’ll be passing that (more tests) so we are just waiting on that clearance and we are working closely with Middlesbrough as he is their player.
“They are a big part of his return to play.”
After emerging through Walsall’s academy, Roberts eventually broke into the Saddler’s first team after several loan spells in non-league. He racked up nearly 150 appearances in all competitions before joining fellow League Two outfit Northampton Town in 2021, where he was rewarded with a fine debut campaign with the club’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards.
It was this form that earned him a move to the Championship with Middlesbrough, but he struggled to nail down a starting berth and made just four league appearances last season. With a wealth of goalkeeping talent on their books, the decision was taken to allow him to gain minutes elsewhere. However, Michael Carrick does have a problem to contend with in the New Year which could have an effect on Barnsley.
Boro’s first choice goalkeeper Seny Dieng looks set to represent Senegal at the upcoming African Cup of Nations, whilst backup shotstopper Tom Glover is likely to fly out to the Asia Cup with Australia.
This leaves the second tier side in a bit of a predicament and they could opt to recall one of their three goalkeepers who are currently out on loan at other clubs. Youngster Zach Hemming is enjoying a stellar season with Scottish Premiership side St Mirren and could be an option. The same can be said of Sol Brynn at Leyton Orient, who is gaining further first team experience after an excellent stint with Swindon Town last season.
Roberts is the most experienced of the trio though, but Collins is unperturbed about the possibility of losing the player;
“It’s the one thing that you have to accept with loan players.
“It gives you the option as well that if it has not worked out, they can move on (with a recall clause). It’s the same for the parent club.
“But I think we are in a pretty good place with our loan players. They are all very happy at Barnsley and doing very well and we hope to continue that.”
Ben Killip is likely to retain his place between the sticks tomorrow night, but Roberts could return to the fray in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, this is the risk that is run when loaning players from other clubs. We saw this happen earlier in the season when Premier League outfit Bournemouth opted to recall Mark Travers from Stoke City and there is a very real possibility that Barnsley could face the same scenario.
Middlesbrough are unlikely to dip into the transfer market, although they could be tempted into a loan of their own. It could also be a good opportunity to showcase one of their younger goalkeepers, meaning that either Leyton Orient or St Mirren face the prospect of losing their respective loanees.