Barnsley v Crewe: Harris happy to bank on family support as he wings in for Reds

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WHETHER he is striding out at the far-flung northern outpost of Carlisle or way out west at Plymouth, Kadeem Harris can always count on support being in his corner.

The Londoner is 22 and still making his way in the game, with his journey having seen him disembark at Barnsley – a town he professed to knowing nothing about when he signed on a 93-day loan from Cardiff on August 23.

James Horsfield and Kadeem Harris chase the ball. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

James Horsfield and Kadeem Harris chase the ball. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

He may be a fair way from home but Harris has quickly embraced life in South Yorkshire since arriving, with his well-being reflected in some vibrant performances for the Reds, the pick of which arrived in last weekend’s derby at Doncaster Rovers.

With him every step of the way are his parents and girlfriend, regulars at all the games he plays in, come rain or shine and regardless of destination.

While their support is loyal and unstinting, do not be fooled into thinking that they do not tell their man how it is or sugarcoat his displays either.

Bouquets may have justifiably arrived in Harris’s lap following a stand-out showing at the Keepmoat Stadium, when his fine display down the left wing almost twisted the blood of Rovers’ James Horsfield at times.

Yet it failed to be crowned with a goal – he is yet to score for the Reds – or prevent a pretty unfathomable 2-1 loss and that was not lost on those close to him.

Harris, a more likeable lad you would struggle to find, told The Yorkshire Post: “My mum and dad come down every weekend and my girlfriend as well; they have been doing that since I have been playing football.

“It is a good thing I have that support. They make it to every game, Carlisle away – anywhere. If I had a game in France, they’d probably be there!

“I feel when I am playing, it is not just me on the pitch. I am playing for that support I do have and that’s important. I am very grateful for that support.

“But they are my biggest critics, to be fair. They tell me when I play well and when they don’t think I have had a good game.

“You need that and it’s another thing they provide. Some parents would tell their kids: ‘Well done’ every game they play. Mine definitely aren’t like that and that has made me the player I am.

“After the Doncaster game, they said: ‘Well done, but you could have scored!’

“But they are happy with me playing regularly as I haven’t been playing for a while. I am excited for the future and so are they.”

Harris hopes that future this season all revolves around Barnsley, although he is conscious of the clock ticking with his emergency loan at Oakwell ending in late November.

The former Wycombe winger admits it will be disappointing to cut short his time at the club, but, equally, he is keeping his fingers crossed that he can return at the start of 2016 to carry on from where he left off.

On his future, Harris, a boyhood Arsenal fan, whose hero was Thierry Henry, added: “I definitely want to come back. When you enjoy your football, that is when you perform at your best There’s only positives so far here.

“It would be a bit disappointing (to go back) but whatever happens, if I do come back, hopefully I can carry on where I left off.

“I am excited for the future as I think we will be up there contending for promotion. I am looking forward to that and, hopefully, I will stay here.

“I am enjoying it and things are coming on well so far and I can’t complain. I am playing week in week out.”

With the precociousness of youth it brings some peaks and troughs, which Barnsley have experienced already this term.

But Harris has seen enough to believe that the Reds can flower in the Spring when the prizes are handed out.

A bit more consistency against some of the division’s lesser lights, including today’s opponents Crewe, would go a long way, mind.

He said: “There is no doubt we will climb up the league and we should as well with our players.

“There’s a lot of friends in the team as well and that can only be a good thing as when you have friends off the field, it brings the team closer together.

“Having all the young players is a good thing.

“People will say there is a bit of naivety with the performances to an extent. But I think that can be thrown out of the window and we can start climbing up the league.

“As the season goes on, we will get rid of that. I don’t think it will take long and by Christmas time we will be flying, at the latest.

“But, hopefully, it happens before then ahead of the second half of the season.

“As soon as we start beating the teams at the bottom of the league, we will start flying up the league as we seem to do very well against the top teams.”

Young players need a leader whom they can trust to follow and Harris says Barnsley very much have one in coach Lee Johnson.

The 34-year-old may be one of the youngest chiefs in the league, but the loanee says the respect he has from his charges is crystal-clear – and is another reason why he wants to stick around.

Johnson had tracked Harris for a good while, with patience utltimately proving a virtue, and the Westminster-born player wants that working relationship to continue.

He added: “He is like an older brother and one of the boys. But everyone has that respect for him and feels comfortable with him.

“He is a very good manager and I am looking forward to working with him in the future as well.

“He is very young, but has a great future ahead of him and I said to one of the boys the other day that he is one of the best managers I have worked with and I’ve had a few. That is in itself a big compliment.

“He is straightforward and not afraid to tell you where you need to improve and the boys trust him and he trusts him us well.

“He is getting the best out of me. As every game goes on, I am feeling fitter and more comfortable.

“When you get a run of games, you seem to relax and show what sort of player you are and that is coming out.

“Hopefully it can continue.”