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Fan Focus: “We’d take Lee Cattermole, ta!”

We return to Barnsley this weekend for the first time since that memorable away day in 2008. The lads at Redfearn’s Bar fanzine sat down with us to chat about Saturday’s game.

Barnsley v Sunderland
Connolly celebrates the second goal in 2007
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

RR: So, three defeats in four games for your boys has left you one place above the relegation zone. What have the performances been like? Are you worried yet?

RB: One place above the relegation zone come the end of the season will suit us just fine. Our performances so far have been rather average. Our club ethos is to sign lower league players and turn them into assets capable of playing at a higher level, but that does take time to develop and at present they are still on a big learning curve. I’m confident it’ll come.

Blackburn Rovers v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship
The loss of Marley Watkins for Barnsley was huge.
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

RR: I have to say, I tipped you for relegation at the beginning of the season because all of your players have basically been purged. How has losing the likes of Marley Watkins effected the team?

RB: Marley Watkins going was a loss, but nowhere near as much as losing Conor Hourihane, Sam Winnall, James Bree and Alfie Mawson was last year and we coped with those leaving. Looking back to the start of last season we had a squad capable of pushing for a play-off place. If we'd have been able to keep those players we may have finished in the top six, but alas we can't afford the kind of wages being offered by most Championship clubs and clubs from the Premier League.

RR: There were some suggestions that Paul Heckingbottom, a former member of our youth team, would have been a good appointment for ourselves in pre-season. How highly do you rate him?

RB: Hecky is brilliant. We don't ever want to lose him! He took over just less than two years ago with us odds-on for relegation to League Two at the time. He turned our results around immediately, and we went from third bottom of League Two to suddenly twice appearing at Wembley - all in six months. Despite our early form, we don't expect to be bottom three to be honest, especially with Hecky at the helm. Keep your thieving hands off him!

RR: What are your thoughts on Sunderland’s season so far? People predicted a struggle, but we started well until last Saturday’s defeat to Leeds.

RB: Sunderland shouldn't struggle this season, not with the resources you have. I know you have financial issues, but if you look at our respective budgets it will show you a gulf in our available finances. The Championship is a very tough league though, so it won't be easy, as I’m sure you’re finding out.

RR: Which Barnsley players should we look out for? I noticed you made some pretty astute signings in pre-season.

RB: Joe Williams (signed from Everton on a season long loan) has looked bang on since he signed, he just needs another solid midfielder to partner him because George Moncur hasn't impressed so far. Ryan Hedges has scored a couple of crackers and thankfully Adam Hammill is looking like he's got his mojo back. Once they all gel we'll have a decent squad that should, hopefully, push us up the league.

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
Barnsley are another club who would like Lee Cattermole in the middle of the park.
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

RR: If you could take a player from Sunderland, who would it be and why?

RB: Since we lost Conor Hourihane we've been crying out for a midfielder who can control the game. We're also desperately in need of a central midfielder with plenty of experience because at present we're losing too much of the ball in the middle of the park. We need a battling midfielder who can get mucked in - so we'd take Lee Cattermole, ta!

RR: Finally, what’s your score prediction?

RB: We're not quite the finished article yet so I'll go for a 1-1 draw. Anything could happen with Barnsley though!

Thank you to Redfearn’s Bar for taking time out to chat to us. You can follow them on Twitter & visit their site here.

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