WHEN IT comes to discussing 2018, Cauley Woodrow would be fully justified to utter the phrase ‘good riddance’.
The current calendar year has been a cruel one for the Barnsley striker – and it is just as well that he prides himself on his levels of mental toughness alongside his prowess in front of goal which has been periodically displayed at the likes of Fulham, Burton Albion and Bristol City.
His mentality has been seriously tested in a year which has hitherto been pretty much a write off in a footballing sense.
On the periphery during a loan spell at Bristol City in the first half of 2018, the Barnsley forward’s difficulties were compounded after picking up a hamstring injury in his first training session with his new club after joining from Fulham at the end of the summer.
To his credit, the Hemel Hempstead-born player has stayed strong and is hopeful that there is a positive twist in the tale before the strains of Auld Lang Syne ring out on December 31.
Whisper it gently, but things are starting to look up for Woodrow, who has made just five appearances so far in 2018.
After making his Reds’ debut from the bench midway through the second half of last weekend’s League One home game with Southend United, the 23-year-old was handed the fillip of his first start in the midweek Checkatrade Trophy group game with Everton under-21s.
The forward, signed initially on a half-season loan with the deal to become permanent in January, is now set to further continue his road to full fitness in tomorrow’s FA Cup tie with Notts County.
Woodrow, who has played under three hours of competitive football so far this year, said: “This is like a fresh start for me and I want to put the past year behind me and forget about it and move on and push forward.
“It has been difficult. I went on loan to Bristol City and did not play as much as I thought I should have after being at Burton where I was playing every week.
You have to be strong in football as there are so many ups and downs. You do have to be mentally strong and I think that I am. I also think I have matured a lot since I have been out on loan. I think I am ready for whatever is thrown at me.Cauley Woodrow
“I think you have to be strong in football as there are so many ups and downs. You do have to be mentally strong and I think that I am. I also think I have matured a lot since I have been out on loan. I think I am ready for whatever is thrown at me.”
In a fraught year, Woodrow is entitled to be grateful for the support of team-mates, family members and friends alike, while the reception he received after making his Reds bow last weekend is one that he will not forget.
It was the forward’s first competitive appearance in eight-and-a-half months since coming on as a late replacement for Bristol City at Leeds United on February 18 – and it represented a redemptive moment.
The Oakwell faithful also seemed well aware of the significance too, as they officially welcomed Woodrow into the fold after previously wondering just when he would don a Barnsley jersey due to his well-documented injury issues.
Woodrow, whose last goal arrived almost a year ago when he struck for Burton in a 2-1 home loss to Preston last November, added: “To be fair, most of it has been light-hearted banter and nothing bad. When I came on at the weekend against Southend, the cheer I got was massive and I was really thankful for that.
“When you come on, it is great to have that feeling that the fans are really behind you and that is exactly what I wanted.
“I am really pleased I did that on Saturday and hopefully I can repay that with good performances.”