BURTON Albion lynchpin Ian Sharps has agreed a deal to stay at the Pirelli Stadium for another year.
The 33-year-old centre-half has been vital in the Brewers’ bid for automatic promotion this season.
Boss Gary Rowett is delighted the former Tranmere and Shrewsbury stopper is staying with the club.
“He’s been a rock again for us this season,” said the manager, who brought Sharps in on loan from Rotherham last January before signing him permanently in the summer. “He talks, organises and reads the game very well.”
The big defender has missed six League Two games this season for Albion – three through suspension and three through a recent calf injury.
Tellingly, the Brewers have won none of them, conceding nine goals along the way.
“He isn’t lightning quick, but he reads the game very well,” said Rowett. “He isn’t a massive shouter, but what he does is go about his job and does it with a real sense of responsibility.
“His reading of the game is key. He gets in good positions and you rarely see him out of position.
“The other thing people don’t always see is how comfortable he is on the ball.
“You don’t tend to pass out from the back in League Two as much, but if we need to, him and Shane (Cansdell-Sherriff) are comfortable on the ball.”
Cansdell-Sherriff could also extend his stay at the Pirelli.
His loan from Preston North End runs out at the end of the season and the 31-year-old is out of contract at Deepdale in the summer.
“I’ve sat down with Shane and we’re in talks to see if we can entice him to sign as well,” said Rowett.
The partnership of Sharps and the unsung Cansdell-Sherriff has been the major difference for Albion this season as the goals against column has been slashed almost in half.
With the mentally tough Cansdell-Sherriff in the side, Albion have conceded just 16 goals in 30 games.
They travel to struggling Northampton Town tomorrow, kick-off 3.07pm, looking for three points to keep them in contention for automatic promotion.
Adam McGurk comes into the reckoning after recovering from a thigh / hip problem he picked up at York.
There will also be a decision to make at right-back, with David Gray outstanding last week after replacing Phil Edwards, who had been ill all week with flu.
Edwards, 28, has been a model of consistency this season and is in the running for player of the year.
Rowett admits it is a tough decision - and would like to get both players in his starting line-up if he could.
“I didn’t want to risk both Phil and Billy (Kee) against Plymouth last week with the illness they’d had,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough decision as both Phil and Dave are terrific players.
“What I’d say is we’ll need everyone before the end of the season - especially with the two Easter games being on the Saturday and the Monday.
“Very good players are going to miss out at some point, but everyone is going to have to play their part.”
Robbie Weir has looked fresh in training this week after he was left on the bench against Plymouth - making his first ever substitute appearance for the Brewers.
Marcus Holness also returns to the squad after getting the same flu bug as Edwards and Kee.