BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill would love to keep skipper Jason Shackell - but has stressed the Reds would have no choice but to move on if the experienced centre-back does leave Oakwell before the start of the next season.
Shackell is believed to have already agreed a provisional deal to join Derby County despite having two years left to run on his three-year contract. But in a new twist Swansea City, recently promoted to the Premier League, were linked with an approach for the player which could prove to be another spanner in the work’s for Hill to try and keep the 27-year-old.
Shackell was voted the Reds’ Player of the Year last season and impressed in his debut season for the South Yorkshire outfit.
“Jason’s an established Championship player and I’d love to keep him, but I’ve been in football long enough to realise you can’t always get what you want,” revealed Hill. “If he does leave the club then we’ll recruit someone to take his place, that’s just the nature of football.
“I’ve spoken to Jason’s representatives and we’re just waiting to see what happens, but I can’t honestly see us meeting up before pre-season starts now.”
Hill and his squad will start pre-season training on Thursday June 30, in little over two weeks’ time.
And the 42-year-old is “hopeful” that he will have signed a few more players so that he can start working with everyone from a level playing field.
Hill wants to give every current squad member a chance to prove themselves and has already identified a number of players who he wants to recruit to add to team.
“We’ve got targets we’re pursuing, they’re players we feel will improve the squad,” added Hill. “But I’d urge the supporters to be patient because at this stage of the season you’ve got to wait for managers, agents and players to get back from holiday before you can the business you want. I’m hopeful we’ll get players we want. I don’t really want to put a number on how many players we’ll get in, but I reckon at least five or six will be needed.
“Everyone’s going to get a fair and equal opportunity, I’m looking forward to pre-season because it’s going to give us the chance to have a closer look at everyone. Things will fall into place, but the fans can be assured we’re going to bring in quality.”