Robins hopeful of keeping hold of hard-working striker O'Connor

BARNSLEY are looking to extend the loan spell of Birmingham City striker Garry O'Connor.

The Scotland internationall completes his latest stint at Oakwell against Sheffield United on Saturday.

However, Tykes manager Mark Robins has been impressed with the 27-year-old's form and is planning to keep the Premier League forward into the new year.

O'Connor initially signed on a month's loan in September, scoring on his debut in the 5-2 rout of Leeds United. He returned to Birmingham, playing against

Arsenal and Blackpool in the

Premier League and featuring versus Brentford in the Carling Cup, but re-joined Barnsley for a second spell last month.

He netted in triumphs at Preston and Ipswich as Barnsley climbed the Championship.

"He has worked hard and has done very well for us," said Robins.

"We remain hopeful that something can be done.

"I've been talking to Garry and his representative. We will see what happens after this loan period."

Hull City hope to see Assem and Ehab Allam complete their takeover at the KC Stadium in the same timescale with the prospective new owners edging ever closer to a deal. The Allams have transferred funds of 833,000 into a holding account in readiness and one of their first pieces of business could be to investigate a permanent move for Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

He is currently on loan in East Yorkshire until January but the in-form 22 year-old has not ruled out leaving the Emirates in order to secure regular first-team football.

Leeds United chairman Ken Bates insists only logistic and linguistic issues have prevented the club from already concluding a new deal with prolific striker

Luciano Becchio.

The Argentinian, who has scored 11 times this season, will be out of contract in the summer.

Bates said: "We have no real problems with Luciano.

"He wants to stay at the club and the only thing is his agents live elsewhere and we have language problems.

"But we are hoping to resolve that."

Mihkel Aksalu has returned to Sheffield United from Mansfield following the end of his two-month loan while Scotland left-back Gary Naysmith has joined in full training with Huddersfield Town for the first time since undergoing toe surgery in August.

Former Doncaster manager Dave Penney is favourite to take over at Mansfield Town.

He left Oldham by mutual consent in May after just over a year in charge of the Latics and has been out of the game since. However, following David Holdsworth's departure, Penney is seen as the frontrunner ahead of ex-York City chief Martin Foyle for the vacancy at Field Mill.

He knows Mansfield chairman John Radford from their time together at Doncaster.

Preston boss Darren Ferguson could secure the services of on-loan Manchester United defender Ritchie De Laet until the end of the season.

Ferguson said: "We've had a conversation. We're hopeful that we could extend his loan, possibly until the end of the season."