BURNLEY manager Sean Dyche has left the door open for Chris Baird to return to Turf Moor, and the Premier League, next season.
The Northern Ireland international was signed as free transfer in March until the end of the season as the Clarets’ squad was hit by injuries and suspensions in the promotion run-in.
Although Baird’s original contract with the club has come to an end, Dyche hopes they have not seen the last of him in a claret and blue shirt.
But the Burnley boss says the decision will be left with the defender, who has spent most of his domestic career in southern England.
“His situation is ongoing,” said Dyche. “His is purely a lifestyle choice. He has been based down south for a long time. He knows that we’re interested in having him with us.
“As you can imagine he’s been in the Premier League a long time, his would not be a financial decision, his would be a family decision - for the right reasons by the way.
“I don’t have to convince anyone, you’ve all seen what he can do, the fans have seen what he can do – he’s a very solid, very reliable, very good professional footballer.
“But he is old enough and wise enough to know it (the move) has to fit his life as well.
“That’s just an ongoing thing just to say ‘go and have a chat with the family, have a holiday etc’, but he’s certainly one we’d look at keeping.”
Dyche said a definitive contract offer had not been made to Baird, but the Irishman was fully aware of Burnley’s interests in retaining his services.
“We haven’t got to that stage yet,” said the Clarets boss when asked if an offer had been made.
“He’s having a family holiday now just to decide what he thinks.
“When he gets back he will be speaking to me about the future.”
Dyche’s March move for Baird was another example of the Burnley manager’s shrewd work in the transfer market.
The former Southampton star had not played a competitive game since November, but Dyche did not see his lack of recent match action as a problem.
“It was a question mark for everyone because he hadn’t been playing, but I’d played with him and I knew what he was like as a character, as a player and as a pro,” said the Clarets boss.
“He did fantastically well and fitted in hand in glove.
“When he played at Charlton he hadn’t played for about 11 weeks.
“He looks after himself and knows the game.
“He’s a very good professional footballer. You don’t play in the Premier League for that long unless you’re a good player.”