Barnsley: I’m committed to the Reds despite transfer request, says Marley Watkins

Marley Watkins and Gaetano Berardi challenge for the ball.
Barnsley FC  v Leeds United.  SkyBet Championship. Oakwell.  21 January 2017.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Marley Watkins and Gaetano Berardi challenge for the ball. Barnsley FC v Leeds United. SkyBet Championship. Oakwell. 21 January 2017. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Reds star Marley Watkins insists he is “proud” to wear the Barnsley shirt - despite handing in a transfer request.

The 26-year-old saw his request rejected by the club in the January window, which saw them lose Sam Winnall, James Bree and Conor Hourihane.

Paul Heckingbottom says Watkins has been great since his request was turned down and that you “wouldn’t be able to notice he asked to leave”.

And Watkins, who Ipswich offered £1m for in the summer, said: “It’s a special club. I’m proud to wear the shirt and to play for a head coach like Paul.

“I just want to make it clear to all the fans that I’m happy here, really happy.

“I didn’t take much notice of the speculation but I know there were a few rumours flying around which was a bit surreal.

“The request got rejected by the club and I completely respected the decision, 100 per cent. Once I was told that I wasn’t going anywhere, I moved on straight away and continued to work hard for the gaffer, for my teammates, and the club. I give everything for this club in every game that I play and I will always continue to do so.”

Like others in the squad, Watkins’ head was turned by interest in him from bigger clubs, and the prospect to enhance his career.

Watkins, who is yet to sign a contract extension past the end of this season, added: “I handed in a transfer request after finding out that there was Premier League interest in me.

“It turned my head to some extent, but I never lost focus on the pitch.

“All that matters is what happens on the football pitch, and I’ll never lose focus when it matters. It’s all about giving 100 per cent every single game.”

“It’s every footballer’s ambition to play at the highest level so I looked further into the opportunity.

“You work towards playing in the Premier League your whole life, so my eyes lit up when I heard of the apparent interest and I was naturally excited by the opportunity to play in the biggest league in the world.

“But now the window’s closed all I want to do is get Barnsley as high up the league as possible.”

The Reds are looking to bounce back from mid-week defeat as Preston North End travel across the Pennines to Oakwell this afternoon.

Heckingbottom’s outfit came out on top in the reverse fixture earlier on in the season - with Adam Armstrong making an instant impact with his debut stunner.