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Third time lucky as Liam joins pal Bobby at Oakwell

By Doug O'Kane, Sports Editor Friday 17th January 2014
Bobby Hassell with Liam Lawrence at Mansfield.

He nearly joined the Reds alongside former Mansfield team-mate Bobby Hassell in 2004 then again last summer but finally Liam Lawrence is a Barnsley player.


Lawrence was set to move to Oakwell with Hassell ten years ago but Sunderland hijacked the transfer and he went on to play in the top level in this country and in Greece as well as internationally for the Republic of Ireland while Hassell remained at Barnsley.


The 32-year-old claims the Reds almost signed him under David Flitcroft at the start of this season but decided not to bring him in. Lawrence, who could be on the bench tomorrow, said: "I was speaking to Barnsley when I was at Mansfield but Sunderland came in then again last summer but they went in a different direction which I respected.


"I spoke to Bobby a couple of times and he told me to come here. I learnt my trade with him at Mansfield. He has changed a lot since then, all for the better."


Hassell said: "I've only just forgiven Liam for missing a penalty in the League Two play-off final for Mansfield, which was the last game I played with him.  He cost me £12,500 that afternoon which would have been our promotion bonus. We were both going to sign for Barnsley under Paul Hart but Sunderland came in for Liam and he went there.


"I've known him since I was 15. We played over 100 games together and he's the best right winger I've ever played with. "We were like the David Beckham and Gary Neville of League Two for Mansfield and we formed a great partnership.  We're both not as quick as we once were but hopefully we can use our intelligence and experience in the centre of the park.


"Barnsley fans will like Liam's quality, work-rate and desire.  He is a born winner and isn't afraid to speak up in the dressing room."


Lawrence was in Greece sorting out his contract out with PAOK at the weekend but is still waiting for international clearance to play against Blackpool tomorrow. He said: "My first season in Greece was fantastic but then the manager got sacked and I got injured and I haven't played since the end of November. I have trained a lot but the best practice is match practice.  Coming to Barnsley is a big challenge but I know we will stay up. Training has been brilliant and the lads are flying around all over the place. Hopefully I can add some experience and quality."