Robert Koren to sign new Hull City contract and could stay until 2015
ROBERT Koren is poised to hand Hull City a timely lift on the eve of the new season by putting pen to paper on a two-year deal today.
The 31-year-old midfielder is understood to have agreed terms on a new and improved contract that will keep him at the KC Stadium until at least 2014.
The option of a third year is also to be included in a deal that should finally conclude a protracted saga linking Koren with a move away from East Yorkshire this summer.
Retaining the playmaker has been among Steve Bruce's most pressing priorities ahead of the new season and the City boss hopes to see good news arrive before hosting Rotherham United in the League Cup tomorrow.
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"We're close, we're getting very close now," Bruce told the Mail.
"Hopefully, we can get everything completed very soon. Since I've walked through the door he's been the one I've wanted to retain.
"There was a lot of talk of interest in him, but we've never wanted to lose our best players.
"A player who can contribute 10 goals from midfield is someone you can't replace easily in the transfer market, especially when you look at this team's history in scoring goals over the last couple of years."
Koren has been the subject of continued speculation this summer as he entered the final 12 months of his existing deal.
The presence of a £500,000 buy-out clause on that contract only served to complicate matters as Bruce accepted he was "powerless" to retain last season's Player of the Year at the KC Stadium.
Interest in Koren was led by former manager Nigel Pearson at Leicester but, as reported by the Mail last week, Bruce has turned the player's head with an ambitious sales pitch.
City should thwart the advances of the Foxes once and for all by finalising a deal today and Bruce said: "It's been difficult at times, but that can often be the case in contract negotiations.
"We've always made it clear to Robert we want him here and we're very hopeful of that happening.
"He's still an ambitious player who wants to get back into the Premier League and we hope we can achieve those goals here together."
Koren's value to the Tigers has been immense since signing on a free transfer two years ago.
Seventeen goals in 81 appearances have made the Slovenian a fulcrum of City's attacking play and he is likely to again captain the Tigers against Rotherham tomorrow in the absence of injured pair Jack Hobbs and Andy Dawson.
Koren's new deal could see him remain at the KC Stadium until 2015, provided he plays the number of games required over the next two years to trigger an extra season.
• CONOR Townsend, who impressed at Grimsby Town last season, has been the subject of loan enquiries from League One clubs, but no decision on his future will be made by the Tigers until nearer to the close of the transfer window.