AFTER deriving limited satisfaction from season’s finales at his previous places of work, Kenny Dougall is desperate to be front of house in Barnsley’s promotion mission between now and May.
It has been a see-saw campaign for the Australian midfielder, who took to the surroundings of League One like the proverbial duck to water in a majestic opening third to the season with his poise marking him out as a summer signing of some repute.
An unfortunately timed ankle injury setback after being on the receiving end of a nasty challenge from Shrewsbury Town opponent Anthony Grant in a 3-1 reverse in Shropshire on October 23 cruelly checked the momentum – ensuring several months of frustration for the Brisbane-born schemer.
Having patiently waited for his chance again after watching his team-mates blaze a trail during the winter, Dougall was handed just his second league start since New Year’s Day in last weekend’s 3-0 victory at Southend.
He is hoping it is a sign of things to come as he seeks to crown his first season in English football with promotion – and finish it in the way he began it during August and September when he and Alex Mowatt were at the heartbeat of the Reds’ resurgence after relegation.
Champagne highs were afforded Dougall during his time in Holland with Sparta Rotterdam – where his side won in the Eerste Divisie in 2015-16 in double-quick time – and at first club Brisbane Roar but success at Oakwell would comfortably eclipse those achievements.
Dougall told The Yorkshire Post: “I was never involved with the first team but we won a few titles at Brisbane. I also won the Dutch second division but we won it quite early and it was not close at the end, so this is a bit different.
“It is exciting and a lot different than playing at the bottom.”
On the subject of making up for lost time, Dougall, set to make his first Oakwell start since Boxing Day, added: “I missed a couple of months through injury and have been out of the (starting) side for the past month or so.
“I have actually missed quite a bit of football and it is time to get back to where I was and, hopefully, it will start this coming weekend.”
Victory over visiting Accrington would serve as the perfect boost for the Reds at the beginning of a potentially fateful double-header which sees Daniel Stendel’s side welcome automatic promotion rivals Sunderland on Tuesday before making the derby trip to neighbours Doncaster Rovers three nights later.
Barnsley have major incentives ahead of the three appointments, with the Reds aiming to protect a proud 15-game sequence without a league reverse and an unbeaten home league record which will extend to a calendar year if they avoid defeat against in their next two matches.
As far as Dougall is concerned, the Reds should be aiming high.
He added: “There are nine points to get and that is the goal. Whether it happens, we will wait and see, but it is definitely the goal and let’s see what other results get us. But we can only take care of ourselves.”