Burnley boss wants stars to fight for their place

BACK IN THE FOLD: Keith Treacy
BACK IN THE FOLD: Keith Treacy

BURNLEY are scheduled to return to pre-season training on Friday, July 6th – and Clarets boss Eddie Howe expects Keith Treacy to report back to Gawthorpe to fight for his place.

Winger Treacy ended a frustrating first season with the club on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, helping the Owls to automatic promotion to the Championship.

The 23-year-old was linked with a permanent move to Hillsborough as soon as the season was over, and Owls boss Dave Jones is thought to have made the Republic of Ireland international a priority signing, along with fellow loan men Michail Antonio and Nile Ranger - although the former Wolves and Cardiff chief has admitted that he has a backup plan if he is unable to agree deals.

Barnsley are also believed to be interested in the former Blackburn and Preston wideman, who moved across the M65 last summer following North End’s relegation.

Treacy still has two years remaining on his contract, but is reportedly a target for the Tykes, with boss Keith Hill keen to add “pace and “width” to his squad.

However, Howe, who has retained his belief in the player’s undoubted talent, said: “We’ll wait and see on Keith.

“I’ve said before, I’ll never shut the door on him, no one is going to nick him from us.

“He did well at Sheffield Wednesday, forced his way into the team, but if he comes back in good shape, he’ll fight for his place.

“If we get interest in him, we’ll review it.

“His talent has never been in doubt, he could be a fantastic player for us, he has all the attributes you want in a wideman.

“The few times he did turn it on for us, he was excellent, and we’d like to see him at his very best.”

Treacy made an immediate impact on his debut on the opening day of last season, coming off the bench to have a hand in Charlie Austin’s goal and heading an equaliser as the Clarets came from 2-0 down to draw at home to Watford.

However, as he struggled for fitness and form, he would be withdrawn four times either before or at half-time, as he failed to cement a regular starting berth, and dropped out of the international equation as well.

He made 27 appearances in a Burnley shirt, including 16 league starts, scoring a second goal in the 2-1 defeat at Peterborough, before being sent out on loan in March.

Treacy made seven appearances as Wednesday overhauled neighbours Sheffield United for the second promotion spot behind champions Charlton, scoring one and making one in the vital 2-1 win at Brentford in the penultimate game of the season.