Hammill coveted by Leeds but Robins hopeful winger will stay at Oakwell

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Football's mid-season transfer window slides open at midnight, bringing equal measures of hope and trepidation to managers and fans alike as Richard Sutcliffe and Ian Appleyard report.

BARNSLEY winger Adam Hammill is set to be the hottest property in the region during the New Year transfer window.

Leeds United, Everton and Nottingham Forest are all weighing up moves for the former Liverpool player who has been a revelation for the Tykes this season.

Although his contract does not expire until summer 2012, there is a get-out clause in the deal which allows Hammill to talk to any club willing to pay 500,000.

In today's market, such a price tag represents great value although, of course, personal demands come into the equation of any deal.

Barnsley manager Mark Robins accepts that there is a risk of losing the 22-year-old but insists his best interests would be served staying at Oakwell, at least until the end of the season.

"I can understand interest from anywhere in Adam because he has been playing outstandingly well," said Robins.

"It is a situation which is somewhat out of our control so we will see what January brings. From the chiming of Big Ben on New Year's Eve to the end of January, we will be keeping our fingers crossed that he is still a Barnsley player.

"I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be. I think this is the right place for him, I think he should stay a little bit longer, but that is for Adam and his advisers to decide. We just have to wait and see what the outcome is."

Leeds manager Simon Grayson is a firm admirer of Hammill and took the player on a six-month loan during his time as manager of Blackpool. He also attempted to hijack his move to Barnsley in February 2009 but the player was not keen on dropping down to League One.

With Leeds now in the Championship and seeking to bolster a push for the Premier League, the capture of Hammill would be a major boost. Forest manager Billy Davies is also keen but Everton have more spending power and can also offer a return to his home city Liverpool.

Hammill, who bagged his eighth goal of the season against Burnley on Boxing Day, recently admitted that he was keen to play in the Premier League.

"For every young lad to reach the highest level is the ambition," he said. "But there's no rushing – and it has to be the right time."

Whether such thinking will prompt Hammill to stay at Oakwell for now remains to be seen but he is regarded as a key player for the Tykes and could yet go on to help them win promotion to the top flight this season.

As for Leeds, Grayson has admitted strengthening is a priority in the New Year – especially with Neil Kilkenny expected to be away for up to five weeks as Australia take part in the Asia Cup.

The 25-year-old midfielder has been a mainstay of the United side this season but tomorrow's Yorkshire derby with Middlesbrough at Elland Road will be his last appearance before jetting to Qatar.

Grayson said: "I am delighted for Neil as the call-up is recognition of the way he has been playing. Him disappearing for a few weeks will give someone else an opportunity to come into the team. whether it is someone already in the squad or we go out and sign a new player.

"Like every manager, you want to make your squad better. We want to try and reach the Premier League and this year is a great opportunity because the Championship is so open.

"The chairman knows I want to improve the squad and if I identify players we need to bring in then he will back me. I am sure we will be linked with a lot of players but, hopefully, anyone we do bring in will make us better for the rest of the season."

Along with a midfielder, United are also expected to complete a permanent deal for Andy O'Brien after the defender's loan spell from Bolton Wanderers.

Another club who expect to be busy are Hull City following the takeover by Assem and Ehab Allam a fortnight ago with Peterborough United striker Aaron Mcclean joining for 1.3m and Matty Fryatt making a 1.2m switch from Leicester City.

Defensive cover is also required but it appears suggestions a move for former Leeds and Sheffield United centre-half Matthew Kilgallon are wide of the mark.

The York-born 26-year-old could, though, still be on the move with Doncaster Rovers hoping to complete the loan signing of the Sunderland man.

He has fallen down the pecking order at the Stadium of Light and would welcome a return to his native Yorkshire.

Leaving Hull will be versatile Kevin Kilbane, who will join Huddersfield Town on loan.

Striker David Healy's loan move from Sunderland to Doncaster is due to expire and, with Billy Sharp fit again after a hamstring lay-off, it is unlikely that he will extend his stay despite a solid contribution.

The future of Rovers' captain Brian Stock is another hot topic at the Keepmoat Stadium. Stock rejected a new contract earlier this season and will be a free agent in the summer. Chairman John Ryan is trying to persuade him to stay but the midfielder is a target for several clubs including Southampton.

Rotherham United striker Adam Le Fondre has stalled on the offer of a new deal which increases the possibility of his departure this month.

Le Fondre, who still has 18 months remaining on his existing deal, bagged 30 goals for the Millers last season and has 17 in 23 games so far this campaign.

Derby County and Barnsley have been linked with the 24-year-old but Millers manager Ronnie Moore is adamant that he will not be allowed to leave on the cheap.

Sheffield United will be looking to reduce their wage bill if possible but a major decision surrounds the future of midfielder Andy Reid.

The Republic of Ireland international is currently on loan from Sunderland and has delivered a string of impressive performances amid the off-the-field turmoil at Bramall Lane.

Reid is not the only player surplus-to-requirements at Sunderland and is on Premier League wages.

Sheffield Wednesday have money to spend following the arrival of new owner Milan Mandaric and manager Alan Irvine is keen to sign a centre-back and a new striker. Irvine, however, has warned supporters not to expect 'big money arrivals' partly due to his faith in his current squad.