Barnsley are interested in signing Oldham Athletic midfielder Liam Kelly.
The Star can exclusively reveal that Kelly is one of a number of players on manager Lee Johnson’s summer recruitment list.
Johnson has made no secret of his desire to sign new players this summer – as many as seven if all goes to plan.
And The Star understands Kelly is a player who Johnson rates very highly and would consider bringing to Oakwell.
Kelly is the current Latics captain, appointed when Johnson was manager and whom signed a new three-year deal at Boundary Park in June last year. But the Scotland international, who played alongside Johnson at Bristol City, is a friend of the Reds’ manager and is tipped for a bright future having blossomed in the last couple of seasons having recovered from a cruciate ligament injury.
Johnson did not want to comment specifically on Kelly when approached by The Star, but did reveal the club are “working like Trojans” behind the scenes to sign new players ahead of next season.
“It takes a lot of hard work to sign a player – and we’re putting in that hard work,” said Johnson.
“We’ve got a list of 10 players for every position in the team, but there are some positions which we’re prioritising.
“It can probably take something like 200 phone calls to eventually sign someone.
“Without sounding arrogant, it’s not difficult getting players to play for us, but it take a lot of work to sort contracts out and get deals done.
“For me it’s about winning the players heart and getting them to buy into what we’re trying to do here. That’s one of the most important things for me when it comes to recruiting a new player.
“And, of course, they’ve got to capture my heart as well. I want to make sure they’ll buy into mine and club’s philosophy.
“It’s not easy, but I’m a football person and I want to work with players who I know I can improve. And they’ve got to think the same for it to work.”
Strengthening his midfield is not a priority though for Johnson with defenders and forwards more pressing in his recruitment drive.
The impressive Josh Scowen and Conor Hourihane are both contracted to the club and expected to stay next season, with youngster Paul Digby hopeful of making a breakthrough next season with regular first-team football.
But wingers looked they will be required for the new campaign and support for star striker Sam Winnall with fellow hitmen George Waring, Kane Hemmings, Leroy Lita, Rhys Oates and Nana Boakye-Yiadom having left the club.
In defender skipper and centre-back Martin Cranie has left the club having not been offered a new contract, while Crystal Palace loan defender Peter Ramage has returned to his parent club.
Defender Lewin Nyatanga has been offered a new two-year deal to stay at Oakwell, but a contract has yet to be agreed with the player who could move on.