BARNSLEY: Stephen Foster ready for Reds’ tough task

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BARNSLEY defender Stephen Foster cannot wait for the Championship challenge next season – one that in his view just keeps getting tougher.

The Reds were hindered by the January departure of star players Ricardo Vaz Te and Danny Drinkwater, and skipper Jacob Butterfield’s campaign-curtailing knee injury in December.

However, a new season will mean renewed hope and confidence, with Foster saying: “The Championship is getting harder and harder and there are lots of huge clubs in there with lots of money.

“It will be tougher than ever, but we’ve got a group of lads here who are ready for the challenge. Our initial aim will be to avoid relegation, but there’s no reason why we can’t push on even further up the league.”

Foster, who recently signed a new one-year deal, added: “I never saw it as a doubt that I would sign a new contract. I’m very happy here and I have a lot of feelings for the club; when I was struggling at Burnley they came in and rescued my career.”

Foster, aged 31, made the free-transfer switch in the summer of 2007 and has made more than 200 appearances for the Reds.

Meanwhile, Reds boss Keith Hill has again tried to persuade Butterfield to sign a new deal. “I’m not optimistic that he’ll stay but I’ve got a good relationship with Jacob and his agent,” said Hill. “I’d definitely encourage him to stay here and play one more season with Barnsley.

“If he did that and showcased his ability the way he did during the first half of last season, then we’d endorse him moving to an elite side.”