Barnsley set to hijack Hibs’ McCourt plans

HIBERNIAN’S hopes of securing a deal for winger Paddy McCourt could be fading after Barnsley manager David Flitcroft hinted he is keen to snap up the “magician” following a trial period.

Paddy McCourt in action for former club Celtic. Picture: Robert Perry

The Northern Ireland international has been training with the Championship side for the past week and has impressed Flitcroft, who is looking to bolster his attacking options after starting the league campaign with just one point from three matches.

McCourt has made it clear that he sees his long-term future in America, preferably with a move to MLS. However, the Oakwell outfit are keen to tempt him to Yorkshire.

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“Paddy’s come down to see what we’re all about. He is a magician on the ball, he is creative and a linker. He will certainly give us a different edge,” said Flitcroft.

“As a quick, talented player, he is someone we have been talking to. He really tried to tear it up at Celtic and started there well, but unfortunately it only happened in spasms for him. He could definitely become a different kind of tool in our tool-bag.”

The concrete interest in McCourt from Barnsley will come as a blow to Pat Fenlon, who has confirmed that he is desperate to secure the signing of a winger following long-term injuries to Alex Harris and Paul Cairney.

The 29-year-old, who worked under Fenlon briefly at Derry City, spent a week on trial at Easter Road earlier this month, and the Hibs manager made no secret of his desire to bring the player to Edinburgh.

“We would love to be able to sign him [McCourt],” confirmed Fenlon. “He’s a very, very good player and will have a lot of options. We are doing as much as we can to make that happen. We want to bring in a wide player if we can and Paddy fits the bill.”

McCourt, who was released by Celtic in the close-season after five years with the Scottish champions, is keeping his options open amid interest from several clubs.

He impressed sufficiently during a trial period with Peterborough United to be offered a deal by the League One side, but he turned manager Darren Ferguson down. McCourt also trained with San Jose Earthquakes in the US but did not make the move permanent.

Meanwhile, Hibs midfielder Kevin Thomson is expected to make a personal appearance at Hampden today as the SFA’s fast-track tribunal convenes to hear his appeal against Saturday’s red card against Dundee United.

The Scotland international was dismissed after Gavin Gunning’s high challenge on the edge of the United box sparked an ugly melee involving players from both sides.

Referee Crawford Allan deemed both players guilty of violent conduct and sent Thomson and Gunning for early baths.