Barnsley boss Danny Wilson swooped yesterday to land his third summer signing – Conor Hourihane from Plymouth Argyle.
Wilson worked his magic to prize the highly-rated midfielder away from Home Park, with the Reds having had their original offer for the player rejected, The Star understands.
But improved terms were agreed with the 23-year-old and he penned a three-year deal at Oakwell yesterday afternoon having completed a successful medical.
Hourihane was an integral player for the Pilgrims last season and made 53 appearances for the League Two club.
The former Sunderland trainee also netted nine goals and won many plaudits as the club’s skipper.
His performances were rewarded with a new two-year deal in May 2013, but Wilson has managed to lure the player to South Yorkshire with the chance to flourish in League One next season.
Having lost midfielders Jim O’Brien, Tomasz Cywka and Stephen Dawson – with the trio having all failed to sign new contracts – Wilson has been keen to strengthen his midfield.
The Reds’ boss had signed goalkeeper Adam Davies on a two-year-deal from Sheffield Wednesday and striker Kane Hemmings on a one-year contract from Cowdenbeath.
But Wilson has told The Star he’d like as many as seven new players for the club’s first season back in League One after an eight-year spell in the Championship.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” said Hourihane on signing for the Reds. “I’m really looking forward to testing myself in League One, it’s a good challenge for me. I’m delighted to be here, Barnsley is a great club.”
Wilson added: “Conor is a player with a lot of talent, he’s an excellent signing for us.”
The Reds are also locked in continued negotiations with former skipper Brian Howard.
Howard played five games for Birmingham City last season but was plagued by persistent ankle problems and a broken toe which limited his appearances for the Blues.
Having signed a short-term contract in January until the end of the season, 31-year-old Howard, who has also played for Sheffield United amongst a long list of clubs during his career, was released from his contract.
The Star understands the club and the player have had positive contract dialogue, although it is believed Howard wants more money than the South Yorkshire outfit can offer.
Meanwhile, tickets will cost £10 for adults and £5 for concessions for the club’s two pre-season friendly fixtures against Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday.