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23rd Jan 2017

Conor Hourihane admits his head has been turned as likely departure draws closer

On the move

Darragh Murphy

It would certainly seem like Conor Hourihane has played his last game for Barnsley.

The in-demand Barnsley captain has been the subject of plenty of transfer interest this January as clubs as far-ranging as Celtic and LA Galaxy intensify their pursuits of one of the most reliable players in the Championship this season.

Hourihane appeared to wave goodbye to his home fans after scoring the deciding goal in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Leeds.

A sumptuous free kick from the Corkman ensured all three points would remain at Oakwell but it looks like the strike will be the final contribution he makes to Paul Heckingbottom’s side.

Aston Villa remain front-runners for Hourihane’s signature, with reports circulating towards the end of last week that the 25-year-old was set for a medical at Villa Park.

And after the weekend’s game, Hourihane gave the strongest hint yet that his future lies away from Barnsley as he admitted to being tempted by Villa’s approach.

“Aston Villa is a fantastic club,” Hourihane told Sky Sports.

“When a manager like Steve Bruce comes looking for you, it does turn your head a little bit. But we’ll see what happens next week.”

It’s understood that £3 million is the fee being quoted for the Bandon-born midfielder, who has been directly involved in 17 goals for his club this season (6 goals, 11 assists), and Villa manager Steve Bruce has made his interest in Hourihane known.

On Friday, Bruce told reporters that a deal was close.

“We are waiting to hear back from Barnsley today and we hope we can announce something with that today,” Bruce said.

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