Barnsley left-back Jay McEveley has paid tribute to ‘gaffer’ Keith Hill for not slamming the door on his Oakwell career.
McEveley was made available for loan earlier in the season, after losing his place in the team to Jimmy McNulty.
But an injury to Rob Edwards saw McNulty switched inside to centre-half, and McEveley found a route back into the starting line-up.
And he has been a regular ever since.
Said McEveley: “I’m not counting my chickens. I know I have to keep working hard just to be in with a chance of starting, but I am really enjoying my football at Barnsley and I am so grateful to the gaffer for retaining faith in me.
“I lost my place early in the season and was made available for loan. The gaffer knew that all I wanted to do was play football, and not kick my heels on a Saturday afternoon, so he was prepared to send me out to get games.
“I’ve missed too many games through injury during my career so I want to play in as many matches as I can.
“But then Rob [Edwards] picked up an injury and I managed to get back in the team. The manager had not slammed the door on me, he was as good as his word. He showed faith in me and I am determined to repay him for that.
“Things are really bubbly here at Barnsley at the moment, in the dressing room, on the training pitch and we look forward to going out onto the pitch on matchdays.
“We feel as if we are having a good season but then you look at the league table and see we are in 16th and you think to yourself ‘how’s that?’.
“I suppose for a start you can’t really afford to lose successive games. We won four in a row and shot up to the fringes of the play-offs, then lost three on the bounce and found ourselves back down the table.
“Everyday and every game is a learning curve in football, but I feel we are playing well, feeling good, and there is a buzz around the place.
“We have all bought into the gaffer’s footballing philosophy. And he’s very good in the man-management side of things.
“I’m also sure he’ll have a plan up his sleeve for Swansea on Saturday. When the draw came out, a Premier League club at home, we all felt it was a fixture to really look forward to.
“On current form they are one of the best sides in the top division, and have made the step up very well. I think they will stay up this season, which will be a wonderful achievement. They have some talented, small and nippy players who try to get behind you, or come short looking for the gaps at the edge of the box.
“We know they like to knock the ball around, and keep possession, so it will be up to us to get in their faces and disrupt their rhythm. Make sure they have no time on the ball.
“I haven’t had a major cup rn really, not like Barnsley who got to Wembley in the semi-finals.
“The best I can recall was the fifth round with Derby a couple of seasons ago, when I scored goals against Doncaster and Birmingham. They were possibly the best two goals I’ve scored in my life!
“It would be nice to chalk up another one against Swansea, and help Barnsley book a fourth round tie with a big club like Arsenal, Manchester City or Manchester United.”