Eddie Howe chasing Barnsley centre back Jason Shackell

TARGET: Jason Shackell (right) in FA Cup action against West Ham
TARGET: Jason Shackell (right) in FA Cup action against West Ham

CLARETS boss Eddie Howe is actively pursuing Barnsley centre back Jason Shackell, but faces fierce competition for his services.

The Tykes skipper, who took the armband from former Burnley defender Stephen Foster, has been the subject of two failed bids from Derby County, while Portsmouth were also due for talks with the 27-year-old yesterday over a potential £1m move.

The former Norwich and Wolves defender was Barnsley’s player of the year in his first season at Oakwell, and new boss Keith Hill is fighting to keep him at the club.

Derby are understood to have had two initial £700,000 offers turned down, but Portsmouth’s former Burnley boss Steve Cotterill has also identiied Shackell as a key target, and Hill said: “Jason’s a very good player, a big player for the club.

“It’s no wonder other teams are chasing him.

“Me and David Flitcroft are still getting our feet under the table, but the plan is to talk to all the players over the next couple of weeks.

“Regarding Jason, we’ll have to chat and hopefully agree on a conclusion that is good for all parties. We’ll see what happens.”

Shackell came through the youth system at Carrow Road, and played a part in the Canaries’ First Division championship season in 2003/04, before making fleeting appearances in the Premier League.

He established himself as a regular under Peter Grant, and was appointed captain at the start of the 2007–08 season, only for Glenn Roeder to relieved him ofthose duties on his arrival.

A year later he joined Wolves, for a fee believed to be around £1m, but while he won a Championship winners’ medal in 2008/09, he fell out of favour and spent time on loan at Norwich and Doncaster Rovers before leaving for Barnsley last May for an undisclosed fee.

Howe would only say yesterday: “There’s no news, nothing new to report - everyone wants to get the basis of their squad for pre-season, but sometimes it doesn’t happen like that.

“We’ll see how things develop.”

Howe is eager to add more mobility and leadership to his backline, and Shackell would appear to fit the bill, if the price is right.

Meanwhile, the Clarets have been linked with a string of players over the week, but I believe while Howe is scouring the free agent list for potential signings, he has no concrete interest in the likes of strikers Nathan Tyson and Marlon Harewood.

And it is a case of ‘as you were’ with Jack Cork and Chris McCann.

Howe said: “We’re still in the same situation with Chris, he is still mulling over our latest offer with his family.

“And while there has been a lot of press reports about Jack, we are still in there fighting for him.”

National media suggested Cork has been offfered £15,000 a week at Southampton, who are willing to pay £1m for the Chelsea midfielder, and while I believe his wage could be even more than suggested, Burnley have an advantage in that his heart lies with the Clarets after spending the last 18 months on loan.