Manchester United midfielder Danny Drinkwater was today back training with the Reds at Oakwell – and manager Keith Hill has said he could yet feature in Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash with Swansea City.
Drinkwater’s loan from Old Trafford had been cut short because of a torn thigh muscle sustained in the home defeat to Ipswich on December 10.
He had gone back to United for treatment, but is now back with Barnsley, who would like to extend his loan until the end of the season.
Said Hill: “Danny is back training with us and we are delighted to accomodate him. He’s had a chat with Sir Alex [Ferguson] about his future and we are waiting on a yes or no in the next couple of days. Of course we would like him back playing for us, but whether that is the Swansea game on Saturday we might have to wait and see.
“I’m more focussing on him being available to us for the trip to Leicester in the league the week after.
“Sometimes when you make loan signings in the second half of the season it can disrupt things, but getting Danny would just feel like we are welcoming back one of our players from injury. He has played a good number of games for us and knows how we work.
“I’d like to make five signings in this transfer window if at all possible, three permanent and two loans. For all areas.
“It is a case of waiting to see what happens. Things change from day-to-day in the transfer market. You can say one minute that you are close to making a signing and then walk out of the room and receive a phone call which tells you the situation has changed.
“One or two things could be on for us in the next few days.
“In the last few years, the club has tended to fade in the second half of the season. I don’t want end-of-season burn-out.
“I’m trying to build for short-term, medium-term and long-term. Getting in players during the transfer window will hopefully bolster our small squad and that will be reflected by our performances and energy in the 20-odd matches we have to go.
Hill has twice tried to recruit Manchester City’s Israeli international Gai Assulin on loan, but says the player is no longer such a priority.
He told Barnsley News: “I’m not looking to go down that route at the moment.
“He is not a priority for me, but it is something I will continue to monitor.”
Hill also admitted that both Danny Haynes and Nathan Doyle could exit Oakwell this month. Both have been made available for transfer.
“There is interest in Danny Haynes but nothing concrete,” Hill confirmed. “Danny’s got to be patient. I’ve taken phone calls from two clubs but everything’s pending.
“Danny got injured at the wrong time and has found himself out of the team. We have Craig Davies, Ricardo Vaz Te, Andy Gray and Matty Done, and all of them have done well. The systems we are playing suit them more than they suit Danny.
“He’s been a little impatient at having to be a substitute. Like all footballers he wants to play but I can’t guarantee him that.
“I haven’t fallen out with him, I don’t fall out with people. It is best for him to find a new footballing home and if he does that then I’ll be over the moon for him.
“As for Nathan Doyle, I don’t know what the future holds. I can’t predict things like that. Nathan is available for transfer, that’s been the case sincer earlier in the season.”
There has been speculation that Portuguese forward Ricardo Vaz Te – who netted a brilliant hat-trick against Leeds on New Year’s Eve – could be looking to move away from Oakwell when his one-year deal expires this summer.
Hill reflected: “Managing Ricardo is an easy job. What is difficult sometimes is dealing with all the people who are managing Ricardo, all the friends of Ricardo, people who surround him who have never kicked a football.
“He has done very well for us in certain games this season.
“He knows that he has to give the team everything, as all the players do, if we are to compete in the Championship. It is not just about the goals, it is about his responsibility to the team.
“Prior to the start of this season no-one wanted to even take Ricardo on trial. We did. We took the opportunity and Ricardo has justified has place in the squad with his performances. It is about the here and now. I want Ricardo to go out on the pitch and help Barnsley football club with matches.”