BARNSLEY boss Keith Hill has told The Star he’s in contract negotiations with three players over new deals.
Hill is keen to keep defender Stephen Foster, winger Jim O’Brien and striker Andy Gray at Oakwell for longer.
And The Star also understands that Hill is weighing up whether to offer midfielder Nathan Doyle a new contract at the end of the season.
Foster, O’Brien and Gray have been consistent performers for the Reds this term, although Championship safety still needs to be mathematically assured with four games to go.
However, Bank Holiday Monday’s battling 1-1 away draw with Blackpool now sees Hill’s side sitting with a healthy eight point lead over third-from-bottom Coventry City.
“I’m in negotiations with Stephen, Jim and Andy, I’d like to keep them at the club,” Hill told The Star.
“All three of them have done very well this season and been consistent for us, but it’s also a case of wanting to retain some continuity within the team.
“They’ve all been exceptionally supportive of me and Flicker [assistant boss David Flitcroft] this season and I feel they need to be rewarded for that. It’s not just on the pitch where they have been a big influence, especially Fozzie and Andy because they’re great players to have in the dressing room.
“You need continuity at a club. You look at Manchester United and they’ve still got the likes of [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes and Rio Ferdinand in the dressing room, there’s so much experience.
“You need leaders in the changing room and on the pitch. These three players are important for the success of the club because they know we’re building for the future.”
The Star understands Gray’s potential new deal will be on reduced terms to the contract he first agreed when he joined the club in August 2009.
Hill added: “Andy’s been excellent for us this season. He knows he’s got to the stage of his career where he’s not going to play every game, but he’s still an important player to have at the club.
“There’s been times this season when he should have played, but he understands the situation and has always given his best when he’s been involved. That’s all you can ask for.”
Meanwhile, first-choice keeper Luke Steele has been ruled out for the rest of the season with his abdominal injury. And that means Hill is hoping to sign Tottenham Hotspur loan keeper David Button until the end of the season.
Button’s current loan deal expires after the Reds’ home clash with Cardiff City on Saturday.