TO say that Barnsley are a much more settled entity ahead of their first away fixture of 2018-19 than they were prior to their opener on the road last term is a major understatement.
Just ask Reds midfielder Brad Potts.
Just a couple of days after signing last summer the former Blackpool man was thrust into an instant debut at Bristol City having barely got to know his new team-mates.
That afternoon at Ashton Gate was one to forget as the Reds slumped 3-1, with the defeat setting the tone for a tough season.
It was also an occasion when three players made their debuts in a line-up that struggled for cohesion all season, but 12 months on and the Reds have rather more continuity.
After last weekend’s handsome opening-day victory against Oxford at Oakwell, and with no fresh injuries, the Reds’ starting line-up picks itself, boosted by the additional fact that key men such as Tom Bradshaw, Kieffer Moore and Potts all remained at the club following the closure of the permanent window.
On a contrasting opening to the season and his innate confidence that the Reds can enjoy a strong renaissance campaign, Potts, who netted in emphatic fashion last weekend, said: “It was a bit of carnage with the way it went at the start of last season.
“Obviously I have had a full year at Barnsley and have got used to the surroundings – the people, club and everything – and had that time to settle in and now this season I can show everyone what I can do.”
Specifically on the importance of Barnsley retaining all their key players as a statement of intent, the Hexham-born player, who has targeted a double-figure goals haul this term, added: “I think the board made it pretty clear that they wanted to keep everyone together as they know the potential in the squad can get us promoted.
“Now we have achieved that we should be achieving that goal.”
Proof of the renewed sense of optimism at Oakwell will be exemplified by the sight of a packed out away end at Valley Parade this afternoon,with the Reds having sold out their 2,500 ticket allocation.