Flitcroft fears Reds will lose their free agents

DAVID FLITCROFT has revealed his apprehension that his Barnsley side might be broken up in the summer with several key players’ contracts due to expire.

The Reds’ manager has presided over a stunning renaissance at Oakwell this year, with his side having displayed close to promotion form after looking relegation candidates in 2012.

Their achievements have not gone unnoticed among managers of a host of other clubs.

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Flitcroft is concerned that rivals may pounce in the close season if the situation is not addressed quickly by the club, who have again reiterated that the priority is Championship survival and not contract negotiations with either players or management.

Players whose deals end in the summer include captain and goalkeeper Luke Steele, defenders Martin Cranie, Tom Kennedy, Stephen Foster and Jim McNulty, midfielders Kelvin Etuhu and Tomasz Cywka, and strike pairing Jason Scotland and Marlon Harewood.

Flitcroft, whose side visit Crystal Palace today, said: “It will be nice to be able to plan for next season. I would not want to be struggling at the start of next season because we have not brought in recruits here or tied people down.

“It would be nice to build something special here, because we have done a lot in a short space of time.

“I know what we as a group need to achieve. But we are going to have to make some decisions pretty quick as this group of players will not keep going unnoticed.

“Players out of contract will not be unnoticed as they are super players with great mentalities.

“When you see teams like Blackburn and Wolves, some of whose players are on 10 or 12 times what ours are on, why would clubs not have a stab at one of our players? That is my worry.

“We are the form team and also probably the fittest team in the league – and, at the minute, the most honest and sincere group of players that managers are coming up against.

“We keep hearing that after games. Nigel Pearson commented (on Monday) on how this group of players had been galvanised and he spoke about our spirit and willingness to work together.

“I was also at the Bolton versus Huddersfield game on Tuesday and again a lot of managers came up and said what we are doing is being recognised, which is good and I have told the players that.

“It is my job to make sure they are not complacent, but that they know they are good players who are held in high regard.”

The club have decided not to pursue their interest in former Bolton Wanderers player and free agent Ricardo Gardner after his recent trial at the club.