Barnsley striker Kieffer Moore gets Wales call-up as he aims to silence the critics

Back in the Championship: Barnsley's Kieffer Moore
Back in the Championship: Barnsley's Kieffer Moore
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FOR such an imposing centre-forward, it will surprise many that Kieffer Moore is quietly spoken in his utterances.

But any references to Barnsley’s 6ft 5ins striker being the epitome of a gentle giant end right there.

I am determined to prove to people that I can do it in the Championship as well and I am sure that they will see that.

Kieffer Moore

Heading into his peak years, the ambition of Moore – who has been rewarded for an uplifting promotion season with a maiden call-up to the 26-man Wales squad for this week’s training camp in Portugal – is evident when you speak to him.

As is his defiance and desire to continually make his critics – and there have been a fair few in the past – eat their words.

When it comes to the Championship, the Devonian, one of four Reds players called up by Wales, has unfinished business.

He had to swallow the bitter pill of second-tier relegation with Barnsley at the end of 2017-18 after his ‘second chance’ at that level ended abruptly after just 11 substitute appearances and 146 minutes in the division with Ipswich Town.

Moore had plenty to contend with during his time at Portman Road. He was derided by many fans, who viewed him as ungainly.

His predicament was summed up by former Blues manager and straight-talking Yorkshireman Mick McCarthy, who remarked on Moore being “hardly well-liked or loved” shortly before selling him to Barnsley in January, 2018, even referencing some supporters cheering when he headed the ball on one occasion.

It provided motivational fuel for Moore and it will not be lost upon him that while he will be returning to the Championship in August, Ipswich will embark on their first season in the third tier since 1956-57.

On his ongoing quest to prove people wrong, Moore, who qualifies for Wales through his maternal grandfather from Gwynedd, told The Yorkshire Post: “Definitely, every time I step on the field.

“I am determined to prove to people that I can do it in the Championship as well and I am sure that they will see that.

“If people want to write you off it is extra motivation for yourself and giving you that kind of underdog status only helps in what you are trying to do.

“I will give everything I can to prove them wrong.”

Moore’s desire to cut the Championship mustard will be shared by his Oakwell strike partner and good friend Cauley Woodrow, whose past experiences at this level have been decidedly mixed.

Their hunger is likely to serve Barnsley well when they renew acquaintances with the division in early August.

Moore believes that they can cause damage in the second tier after plundering 33 goals between them in a 2018-19 season that was disrupted by injury.

He added: “We have had some partnership. Both of us have had our moments where one was not playing and we have done really well. Together, if we can stay fit, I think we can be a real problem in the Championship.

“We are friends and that always helps and it is really good and we enjoy each other’s company and do a lot outside of the pitch and it is always good.”

Moore’s first international call-up has provided gloss to a memorable campaign that also saw him named in the PFA’s League One Team of the Year and play an active part in a promotion campaign after missing out on Wembley play-off highs with two former clubs in Rotherham United and Forest Green Rovers.

The 26-year-old will not be short of company with team-mates Adam Davies, Ben Williams and Ryan Hedges also called up for the Welsh get-together on the Algarve, which starts today and lasts until May 28.

Wales, whose squad also includes Rotherham United captain Will Vaulks, face successive away games in June in Croatia and Hungary and manager Ryan Giggs will name his squad for the two qualifiers in a week.

Earning a place in the squad for the qualifiers would provide further kudos for Moore, although whatever transpires, he can look back with fondness on the season that has just ended.

Especially given the fact that he made an earlier-than-expected return to take part in the Reds’ finale after suffering a potentially season-ending head injury at Gillingham on February 9.

Moore added: “Just to step on the grass for the last few games was amazing and to finally get that feeling of promotion meant that I was elated.

“Through all these games and the experiences we have had it is only going to help us for next season.

“We have grown as a team and squad. Next season is going to be hard, but with this squad we are more than capable.

“Experience matters a lot in football and for us to have the season we have had – going from the lows (of relegation) to the highs – is only going to help us.

“Last season (2017-18) was very disappointing, but the silver lining is that we got promotion back and we are back in the Championship where we belong.

“The feeling was indescribable and one which will stay with me for the rest of my life.”