In-demand Conor Chaplin keen to repay Barnsley’s persistence

CONOR CHAPLIN’S interest in an absorbing League One promotion race in the Spring run-in extended well beyond his commitments with former club Coventry City.

Wearing the sky blue of Coventry he may have been – with the Midlanders cast as top six ‘gate-crashers’ in the latter stages of last season – but he also had an eye on the fortunes of his future employers Barnsley and first club Portsmouth.

Fondly remembered during his time on the south coast at Fratton Park, Chaplin would have been understandably happy if his old side had made their return to the Championship.

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But, professionally speaking, the fact that long-time admirers Barnsley booked an automatic promotion berth represented a big window of opportunity.

Fulham's Tom Cairney (right) and Barnsley's Conor Chaplin (left) battle for the ball.

The Reds were in the market for Chaplin at the end of the summer window in 2018, but the Worthing-born player headed to Coventry instead.

That did not deter Barnsley from maintaining their interest and persistence paid off when they swooped to sign him in July.

It is always nice to feel wanted and Chaplin is determined to provide payback for his new club in the weeks and months ahead.

Chaplin said: “I was at Portsmouth for so long and I was not at Coventry for long at all and knew last season that the club (Barnsley) wanted me and I am really appreciative that they kept that (interest) up and that I was able to come here.

“I would like to repay the faith of the club and manager.

“Obviously, when Barnsley got promoted, you always think: ‘what if’. But you cannot really think about that too much in football. You have to think about the here and now and last season, it was Coventry and I am now here thankfully.

“It was a funny one (towards the end of the season). But I was obviously concentrating on Coventry and we just missed out and probably were just short.

“I am glad to be here. I am not too sure what happened (before) if I am completely honest. But I think it was close.

“Feeling wanted is very important for a footballer and probably how you get the best out of someone. That is how I feel.”

Chaplin and his team-mates are seeking redemption at home to Charlton tomorrow – at the end of a testing week which has seen the club suffer a derby defeat at Sheffield Wednesday, with a disappointing result compounded by Tuesday’s poor Carabao Cup exit to Carlisle.

Matters have been exacerbated by the news that key midfielder Alex Mowatt may face a spell on the sidelines with a side strain.

Assistant head coach Dale Tonge said: “He is still struggling, to be honest. He felt it before the (Sheffield Wednesday) game; I think it was Friday in training.

“At the minute, we are still waiting for the results. We have had a couple of scans on him, so it is just a case of what the secondary results show – whether it is short or long term.”

Meanwhile, Tonge has reiterated the club’s appeal for a section of supporters to stop making offensive chants about defender Bambo Diaby.

It comes after the Reds issued a second statement about the behaviour of a minority of fans, which stated that the club were becoming ‘increasingly concerned’ at the chants.

Tonge added: “The chants that have been happening are something we would like to stop. Obviously, the player in question has seen a lot of his name now in negative articles.

“He (Diaby) is quite new to the country and obviously a new player and we want him settled as much as possible.”