Barnsley’s decision to offer goalkeeper Luke Steele only a one year contract is because he is “too old” for a longer deal according to manager David Flitcroft.
Despite being only 28 years of age- a low age especially for a goalkeeper- The Reds feel it is too risky to offer their stalwart of five years any longer than a 12 month contract.
Despite offering defender Tom Kennedy, who turns 28 this month, a two-year contract, Flitcroft told the Barnsley Chronicle:
"If Luke was 22 then we'd offer him a two-year or three-year deal, but age is a critical thing and we don't know what our budget will be after this season so we have to plan carefully.
"You've only got to look at Manchester United and see how they do things. The best players in the world only get one-year deals when the time is right and we have to look at their example.
"I want players to be hungry and flexible and it could be that there is a bigger opportunity out there for Luke and I wouldn't want to stand in his way if that's what he wanted.
"Luke will go and seek other opportunities and if nothing comes up for him then we will receive him with open arms and will look forward to working with him next season. I wouldn't want Luke coming back being annoyed that he hasn't got a move somewhere else.
"We shouldn't have regrets in life and Luke has every right to explore what else is out there for him."
It is now widely expected that Steele, who has made 164 appearances for the club will seek pastures new with Hull City and Wolves rumoured to be interested, but if this is the case, Flicker will not go hunting for a new No.1 but will instead promote Ben Alnwick to the top role.
The 26 year old has played for a remarkable 10 clubs in his nine-year career to date and was sent off on his Reds debut against Rochdale last August. The former Sunderland trainee went on to make 12 appearances in 2012-2013 before Steele returned from injury in November and the Reds boss believes he is ready to take the main jersey.
"I will completely trust Ben Alnwick to be the number one goalkeeper for Barnsley Football Club if Luke doesn't sign."
"Ben has been an unbelievable support mechanism for Steeley during the last season and he will be given the chance to impress”
There is set to be a new goalkeeper arriving at Oakwell this summer however. Flitcroft revealed he is close to agreeing a deal to bring in a young goalkeeper from abroad. The new arrival, which is still a closely guided secret, would initially arrive as an understudy and would NOT be a direct replacement for Steele. The move puts question marks over the future of the club’s Academy No.1, Lithuanian Lukas Lidakevicius.
Meanwhile Flitcroft has also revealed he is now VERY close to signing striker Chris O’Grady on a permanent deal from Sheffield Wednesday, whilst defender Jimmy McNulty has signed his new one year deal. The club are just awaiting decisions from Steele, Bobby Hassell, Martin Cranie and Tomasz Cywka.