NILE RANGER has promised to clean up his act and repay the faith of Barnsley manager Keith Hill after helping the South Yorkshire club to another derby triumph.
The 20-year-old has moved to Oakwell on loan from Newcastle United after a difficult few months in his private life.
Ranger has twice been arrested since the start of the season and appeared in court earlier this month, pleading not guilty to two counts of common assault, two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a separate count of being drunk and disorderly.
He will next appear before Newcastle magistrates in the New Year, by which time he will have been on loan at Oakwell for the best part of two months.
Ranger, who came off the bench for the final 26 minutes of Saturday’s derby win over Leeds United, said: “People in football look at me and say, ‘Yes, we like him. On the pitch he is good but off it – a problem’.
“So no clubs have wanted to touch me, if I am being completely honest. Thank God for Barnsley then.
“They sat me down and said they were going to take a risk and I am grateful for that. This is a fresh start for me and it is up to me now to perform as I can do.
“I am hungry – in fact, I am starving for it. I know I have got to keep my nose clean off the pitch and that is what I will be trying hard to do.
“I don’t exactly know many people in Barnsley so there is not much that is going to distract me from my game.
“So this is a good move for me because it means I can just focus on my football.
“It is great here and I have settled in really well. This is a very good Barnsley team but if I get in and start games then I shall definitely score goals.”
If Ranger needs inspiration as to what benefits can come from being more focused on his football then the Newcastle forward need look no further than the centre of the Barnsley midfield, where Jacob Butterfield’s career continues to blossom.
The Reds captain put in an outstanding shift against Leeds to underline why the Premier League scouts have been flocking to Oakwell this season.
His display again showed just how much the 21-year-old has grown as a player this season, an improvement that he puts down to a summer heart-to-heart with Hill.
Butterfield said: “So far, this season has gone really well for me. I have played every game, scored some goals, put in some good performances and been given the captain’s armband.
“A couple of years ago I had a tendency to maybe switch off and focus too much on trying to show my ability on the ball and not what is best for the team.
“The gaffer has taught me how to be more effective for the team and not just effective for me.
“He might have seen me as a fancy dan that was not doing myself justice. He recognised my talent as soon as he came in.
“The gaffer thought I should be playing more and that I should be having more of an influence. He has been a big influence in my career.
“Criticism is not hard to take, it is part of football. If you win you are brilliant and if you lose you are not. I have a lot of respect for him.
“He had his ideas about me and I had to listen to his opinion.”
Butterfield has been watched by a host of Premier League clubs in recent weeks, with David Moyes being at Oakwell earlier this month when Hull City were beaten 2-1.
The Reds captain added: “It is not about me, it is what is best for Barnsley and the two are going hand in hand. I