BARNSLEY youngster Matty Stead is hoping this season will prove key to his fledgling career.
Seventeen-year-old left-back Stead was one of a group of youngsters to sign deals with the Reds for the forthcoming season, having impressed in the club’s academy.
And having seen some of his fellow scholars handed the chance to impress last term for the first team, defender Stead is also hungry to step up and be counted.
Speaking exclusively to The Star from Barnsley’s training camp in Marbella, Stead said: “I’d love to get my place in the team some time this season. I’m fighting fit and have just got to be patient to hopefully get my chance.
“To be part of the first-team squad is what we’ve all worked for since we’ve been growing up. We’ve all come through the ranks together so we pull each other along and encourage each other to do better.
“We’ve all worked hard and it’s finally paid, we’ve earned ourselves professional deals. Now it’s time to kick on.”
The new graduees all had to follow a strict training session in the close season so they got stronger and their bodies developed to cater for the demands of the Championship.
And although this week’s Spanish training camp has been a grueller, Stead knows he’s going to reap the rewards when the first ball of the season is kicked.
“It’s been a hard work and tough on the body, but it will be worth it,” added Stead.
“It’s a great experience just to be around the other players, they’re always giving me encouragement, always giving me advice and helping you do the right things. Their help is invaluable. I’m just watching a learning from the players - and I’ll keep doing that this season. It can only help make me into a better player.
“The manager [Keith Hill] and Flicker [assistant manager David Flitcroft] have faith in youth, which is great. They just want to bring the best in everyone. They won’t rush you if you’re not ready, but they help you along the way.
“Sometimes I do think ‘wow, am I actually playing? Is this really happening?’’. I really value the opportunity. Hopefully I can make my debut this season or next.”