FEW players have as much to play for between now and the end of the season as Barnsley winger Ryan Hedges.
The Wales international will be out of contract in the summer and is mindful that performances in the run-in are likely to determine whether he earns a new deal at Oakwell, with his preference being to stay at the club.
Major gloss would be provided by helping the Reds complete their mission of returning to the Championship at the first time of asking – and present possible international spin-offs as well.
Afforded a transfusion of confidence by Wales manager Ryan Giggs after being named in the squad for the Principality’s recent March internationals, the 23-year-old justified Giggs’s faith by producing a fine display in the friendly win over Trinidad and Tobago.
Determined that his confidence fillip with Wales will serve as a prelude to a strong end to 2018-19 after an injury-hit campaign to date, Hedges said: “When he (Giggs) told me I was starting he said I was here on merit and told me to work hard and enjoy the occasion. I felt I did and have taken it back to Barnsley.
“Hopefully I can still be a part of that squad coming into the next qualifiers.”
“My chances (at Barnsley) have been limited this season through no fault of my own, with injuries, and it has been quite a difficult season personally.
“But these next seven games are what matters now and hopefully I can kick on.”
Acknowledging that his preferred option is to secure a new contract with Barnsley, the winger added: “I really enjoy the club and like being here and it is a really good group. We will see what happens.
“There were a couple of mentions with Gauthier (Ganaye), the old chief executive, but now that a new one has come in we will have to play it by ear.”