Conor Hourihane struck what proved to be a breathtaking winning goal for Barnsley against in-form Leeds, while speculation continues apace regarding a supposed imminent switch to Championship rivals Aston Villa.
Many at Oakwell on Saturday were surprised to see Hourihane’s name on the teamsheet following Villa boss Steve Bruce’s revelation on Friday that a transfer deal was ready to go through.
However, Hourihane did appear, and played a starring role, as the Reds came from behind to secure a memorable Yorkshire derby win against Garry Monk’s promotion-chasing outfit.
Speaking after the game but ahead of what promises to be a period of further feverish speculation, Reds boss Paul Heckingbottom said: “Conor is still a Barnsley player.
“Until any bid is accepted for him from any other club, that’s his job for now - to play for Barnsley.
“Of course I hope he remains with the club, but for now we’ll just have to see.
“We’ve had a number of discussions with Conor, but money does talk at the end of the day so we’ll have to see where this goes.”
Hourihane, 25, joined the Reds from Plymouth in the summer of 2014.
He has since made 135 appearances for the club, scoring 31 goals.
BOSS SALUTES CHARACTER
Barnsley ended Leeds’ impressive recent unbeaten run and moved themselves a little closer to the Sky Championship play-off places thanks to completing a stirring comeback victory on Saturday evening in front of the watching nation.
Almost 18,000 were packed into Oakwell to witness the Reds show exactly why they should be considered contenders for a top six spot.
Reflecting on an energetic performance packed with enterprise and guile, Heckingbottom beamed: “We deserved that win.
“To come from behind like we did shows how much character and spirit there is in this squad.
“We demand a lot, but the players love it. They love playing that way.
“It’s good to watch, and features high intensity and high energy.
“When we play like that, any team in this division is going to struggle to beat us.
“There was a great atmosphere inside the stadium, and with the cameras being here, it proved to be a good advert for Championship football.”
In a game which saw Everton loanee defender Gethin Jones thrown straight in for his debut, Leeds went in front when former Red Chris Wood converted a Pablo Hernandez corner-kick.
Tom Bradshaw levelled just before the break, before Ryan Kent fired in a cracker and Conor Hourihane curled home a sublime 25-yarder to sink Garry Monk’s men.
Wood scored from the penalty spot to reduced Leeds’ deficit, but Barnsley comfortably held on.
HECTIC WEEK BECKONS
Struggling Rotherham lie in wait next for the in-form Reds next weekend, but before then a busy week of negotiations and possibly transfers could be in the offing at Oakwell.
Every Reds fan’s eyes will continue to be on the Hourihane situation, while there has also been speculation linking talented young defender James Bree with a move away from Oakwell.
Losing one, or both, of those players would be a huge blow for Paul Heckingbottom, so if he does, there will be a race against time to draft in suitable replacements.
Heckingbottom admitted on Saturday that he was happy with the depth of the squad at his disposal currently, but presumably there would be plenty of money available should players be tempted away and so let’s just see how fluid the transfer situation becomes.
The Reds have got great momentum behind them at present - hopefully the applecart won’t be rocked too much this week.