Former Barnsley captain Brian Howard could be set for a sensational return to Oakwell after making contact with the club.
The 29 year old became an Oakwell legend during a three-year spell between 2005 and 2009, scoring 27 times in 121 appearances including the memorable last minute winner at Liverpool in the FA Cup in 2008.
He won promotion to the Championship in 2006 and captained the club at Wembley in the FA Cup Semi-Finals but left, rather acrimoniously in January 2009 for Sheffield United.
The former Southampton trainee has failed to achieve the same heights as he did with the Reds and played just 30 times for the Blades before heading to Millwall on loan in 2011 and then permanently to crisis hit Portsmouth in 2012.
Due to the worsening financial crisis at Fratton Park, Howard along with Mustapha Dumbuya, Jon Harley, Lubomir Michalik, Luke Rodgers and Lee Williamson were released on the 15th January when their short-term contracts expired.
Now the former England Under 20 player could return to South Yorkshire with his representatives confirming they have been in touch with the Barnsley board and that the ball is now in the club’s court.
Meanwhile Reds stalwart Bobby Hassell fears his nine-year association with the club will come to an end this year.
Hassell, 32, is the club’s current longest serving player after signing from Mansfield in the summer of 2004 and has made 254 appearances. Along with Luke Steele and Stephen Foster, Hassell is the only player still remaining at the club from Howard’s time there. Now it seems the Mansfield trainee could be seeking pastures new with his contract ending this summer.
Hassell has been a regular for the club over the years and had not played less than 25 times in a season prior to Keith Hill’s arrival in the summer of 2011. He appeared 21 times in 2011-2012 but only once from the end of January and has played only 10 matches this season under both Hill and David Flitcroft but has not featured since Boxing Day.
He told the Star:
“I don’t expect to be here next season,”
“My future is uncertain but one thing’s for sure, if I’m called upon I’ll go out there and give it my all.
"I love pulling on the Barnsley shirt and have always given my best for the club. I’ve hardly started any games this season though. Maybe I have played my last game, but I hope not.
“If I’m not playing I’d definitely love to stay involved in a coaching role – and hopefully finish my career here.
“But I just don’t know what’s going to happen. To go out like this would be really sad, but I’m not looking for sympathy. Football doesn’t own me anything and I don’t owe football anything.
“Whatever happens I’ll be fine in life. I’ve got no qualms with anybody or any axe to grind. All I want to do is play for the club and try and keep us in this division. I’d be devastated if we got relegated.”
“I’ve still got something to offer. I can definitely contribute a lot.
“I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career, but unfortunately this season has been a write off.
Flitcroft has already confirmed he will not leave before the summer whilst director Don Rowing revealed tentative talks have started over a new contract but that is believed to be on reduced terms to his current deal and linked to appearances.