FOREWARNED is forearmed, as the saying goes.
Certainly, no-one can accuse Barnsley’s deadline-day signing Patrick Schmidt of not knowing what he is letting himself in for in the Championship, given the painstaking research he has conducted on his new club.
Neither can a lack of homework be a charge levelled at the Reds following their decision to sign him from Austrian outfit Admira Wacker on a four-year deal.
His future employers set the wheels in motion to recruit him in May, having identified the 21-year-old, who netted eight goals in the final 17 games of last season for Austrian Bundesliga side Admira, as someone who fitted into their bracket of a young and cost-effective striking option with potential sell-on value if his career progresses.
For his part, Schmidt, equally at home in a wide-sided attacking role or through the middle, read up extensively about his prospective new club – utilising the Transfermarkt website as a database for information on his new team-mates and even checking out the Fifa online management game to gain further knowledge.
Having crammed himself with information, Schmidt is now ready for some practical experience – which may yet arrive tonight after being an unused substitute at the weekend.
Should he be handed his bow, he will be not be short of knowledge on who he is up against either. On his first move to England, Schmidt, is the cousin of Austrian international forward and current Sturm Graz player Philipp Hosiner, who counts Rennes and FC Koln among his former clubs, said: “I talked to my agent a few months ago and had much time to read up about the club and I watched a lot of videos from the games last year.
“I also had time to read something about the history of the club and I know that they played for one year in the Premier League.
“It was a dream to play in England. It’s the ‘mother’ of football and I am excited to be here.
“I do my research on all the opponents. There are a lot of big clubs in the Championship and it is something new for me and I love to play in front of many people. I am looking forward to the (Birmingham) game.
“I scroll through the clubs and watch Transfermarkt. (Kristian) Pedersen, the central defender, is also there who played at Union Berlin with my cousin, so I have talked to him about what I can do.
“We will see. I will be ready if the coach needs me.”
Specifically on his path to South Yorkshire, he added: “They (Barnsley) said my style of play fitted with theirs and they knew a lot about me, which I could not believe. They watched some videos and were also at the games.
“I was surprised, but it is good to be here now. They were in contact with my agent many months before. They really wanted me and I appreciated it.”
Given the eye-catching research that he has undertaken on his new club, it may not have escaped Schmidt’s attention that Barnsley will be heading to a favourable venue in St Andrew’s.
It was, in fact, the scene of their last away victory at this level – a 2-0 success achieved thanks to an Oli McBurnie double in February 2018 in what constituted a rare moment to savour for Jose Morais during his ill-fated tenure.
All told, the Reds are unbeaten on their last five visits to the Blues’ home and have won on three of their last four trips.
With Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin netting impressively in Saturday’s draw with Charlton, Schmidt is likely to be forced to bide his time regarding a full debut, but represents a pacy option from the bench all the same.
Assistant head coach Christopher Stern said: “Unfortunately, we have had a lot of games since he first came in and it was tough to see him that much in training.
“But what you could see in training is his finishing ability, runs and mobility. We look forward to seeing more of him.”
Meanwhile, the Reds are not ruling out Alex Mowatt from making his return after two matches out with a side strain this evening, with the midfielder due to have been assessed after training on Monday ahead of possible inclusion in the squad.
On tonight’s test against a Birmingham side who are reeling after a 3-0 weekend defeat at Nottingham Forest – and include ex-Oakwell favourite Marc Roberts and former loanee Gary Gardner in their ranks – Stern added; “I was told we have a very good record against Birmingham, especially away.
“Having watched the game at the weekend, they had a blow against Nottingham – similar to us against Carlisle.
“But every time, you have a blow, you want to get up quickly.
“We need to be alert, but I still think the chance of us taking three points are good.”
Last six games: Birmingham DDWLDL; Barnsley WLWLLD.
Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne and Wear).
Last time: Birmingham 0 Barnsley 2, February 24, 2018; Championship.