Tykes boss confirms deal for City striker is 'close'

Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael following the Sky Bet Championship match at Oakwell, Barnsley.

Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael celebrates his team's 2-1 home win over Huddersfield on Boxing Day - Credit: PA

Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael has confirmed the Tykes are close to signing striker Carlton Morris from Norwich, as he sets his sights on keeping his squad intact during the January transfer window after some impressive form.

The South Yorkshire side scraped to safety last season thanks to Wigan's points deduction and winning their final two games, and Ismael replaced Gerhard Struber in October after a failure to win any of their opening seven matches.

The Frenchman, a defender for clubs including Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen during his playing days, has inspired 10 wins in 15 games to put Barnsley eighth and just three points adrift of the play-offs ahead of their trip to Norwich on Saturday.

As previously reported, the leaders are not expected to sanction the deal for Morris until after the game but the 25-year-old's loan at MK Dons is set to end so that he can be sold for a nominal fee, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

“Our purpose is to have new signings before the Tranmere (FA Cup) game. They are on the way," Ismael explained. "For the moment, there are good signs that it could happen. We are looking still at a striker and a centre-back.”

That striker is expected to be Morris, who won the FA Youth Cup with Norwich in 2013 but has only made one senior appearance, in 2015. He has had seven loan spells away from the club, with a serious knee injury disrupting his progress after doing well at Shrewsbury during 2017-18 - making 175 senior appearances and scoring 29 goals in total.

 “Carlton Morris is a player on a list who we are looking at," Ismael added, speaking to the Barnsley Chronicle. "He is a very good player with a good profile for me, for the system and for the Championship. But he is one name among many.

"We have to see and, when something is ready to sign and to say, we will do it. But for the moment I am only talking about the prospect and saying we are close to making a deal.

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"The feeling is, for the moment, good.”

The game at Carrow Road is set to be the last before midfielder Matty James returns to Leicester but the Tykes boss is hopeful that loan will be extended, saying: "We need quality and he is a quality player.”

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He also hopes midfielder Alex Mowatt will sign a new contract, with their skipper's deal due to expire in June, and is determined to keep star players such as top scorer Cauley Woodrow and talented wing-back Callum Styles.

“The purpose with the starting 11 is to keep them until the end (of the season) because we have a good feeling now," Ismael continued. "We can see how we integrate the new players. That is what I’m looking forward to. 

“It will be a tough month but with the wins and the mentality we showed and the performances and togetherness, I think we are ready.”

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