CONOR HOURIHANE says that the ball is in Barnsley’s court regarding his future and insists he is open-minded about his situation.
The Reds’ talismanic captain – whose current Oakwell deal expires in June – recently started discussions with the club’s board, with initial discussions being ‘positive’, according to the midfielder.
But Hourihane, outstanding throughout a golden 2016 which has seen him lead the Reds to two Wembley triumphs and pick up the Championship player of the month award for August, has pledged that he will not rush into making a final decision and will fully assess his options before reaching his decision.
The Cork-born player said: “The talks are ongoing with the club and we will see where it takes us. It has been positive so far.
“We will have to wait and see. Barnsley have been good to me as a club and I feel as if I have been good to them. We are both positive.
“It is up to the club to see how far they want to push it. I am open-minded and it would be silly for me not to be and let’s see where it takes us.
“The talks are ongoing and let’s hope it stays positive.
“It is a long season and I knew that the talks would start sooner rather than later and they have. It will come to the table when it needs to.
“But first and foremost, we need to keep winning games for the club and cement our Championship place really.”
Meanwhile, head coach Paul Heckingbottom admits that he felt for Hourihane after he was cut from the provisional Ireland squad last week ahead of their World Cup game with Austria.
Ireland No 2 Roy Keane explained the decision by stating that the management felt that Hourihane ‘needed to do more’ – and cited a couple of below-par performances for his club as the reason behind that thinking.
Heckingbottom said: “I think I want it more than Conor now and I would love the Ireland team to see him and work with him.
“I know Roy knows him really well (from their time at Ipswich and Sunderland). But that was a long time ago and Conor has come on leaps and bounds as a player and a person.
“I would like to think they have watched every game he has played in the Championship and not just taken it on the ones they have been able to get to.”