Barnsley: Johnson warns clubs off Reds ace Conor Hourihane

Conor Hourihane
Conor Hourihane
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Manager Lee Johnson has issued a hands-off warning to any clubs courting Barnsley’s star midfielder Conor Hourihane.

The Irishman was the driving force behind much of the Reds’ creativity in the last campaign, contributing with 14 goals from the centre of the park.

As well as being top scorer, he scooped the club’s Player of the Season award having made 53 appearances last season.

A number of Championships sides are said to be interested in the Cork-born 24-year-old but Johnson has no interest in allowing him to leave the club.

“I like Conor Hourihane so I would discourage bids for him,” he said. “Everybody has a price and Conor is ambitious, but he really enjoys the place and everybody loves him.

“He’s playing well and he knows he’s got a couple of things to work on this pre-season to make him even better He had such a good year last year that he’s bound to be thought of by clubs in higher divisions.

“Particularly the way everything is going in recruitment now, everything is stat-based which means he will be flagged up.”

Hourihane and his team-mates checked in for their final fitness testing at the weekend ahead of the start of full pre-season training on Wednesday.

The Reds players were also afforded the opportunity to do a small amount of ball work, with Johnson keen to get started as soon as possible.

“I need all the time I can get so that’s why we’re in two or three days earlier than most other clubs because we want to do the testing,” he added.

“I’m a football coach, I like coaching. It’s such a young group and it’s got a lot to learn, but it’s quite fit. I want to have games as well because you learn a lot from games.

“These players have got a lot to do to be the best they can be. They need to be educated and coached and if they’re fit anyway, which they’ve proved over the summer and in their testing, then we’ll just get them straight on the ball, it makes sense.”