Barnsley FC's Callum Styles won't be sightseeing when he faces hero Wayne Rooney

BARNSLEY midfielder Callum Styles says that the last thing on his mind will be autograph hunting when he faces the side managed by his boyhood idol in Wayne Rooney in relegation rivals Derby County on Saturday.

Barnsley's Callum Styles, pictured in the home fixture against Derby in November.
Barnsley's Callum Styles, pictured in the home fixture against Derby in November.

Styles has been outstanding in the Reds' back-to-back Championship wins over Middlesbrough and Hull City, which have revived hopes of another Great Escape survival act. Reports have also emerged this week that he was the subject of a failed January bid from Nottingham Forest.

The 21-year-old remains just much focused on the here and now - and playing his part in another act of relegation escapology.

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Styles hails from Bury, a town which is Manchester United supporting stronghold. Growing up, there was one player who stood out from the rest in the shape of Rooney during his playing days at 'The Theatre of Dreams.'

Prior to Barnsley's visit to Derby in November 2020, Styles revealed that he was intending on asking Rooney, then winding down his career with the Rams, for his jersey after the game.

Given events at the bottom of the table in the present - and Saturday's huge six-pointer at Pride Park - star-gazing will not come into the equation this time around.

Barnsley, who have won three of their last four league games after winning just twice in their opening 29 Championship matches, have shaken up the survival fight.

They jumped up to third from bottom last weekend following victory over Boro and are six points behind Reading - the side just outside of the drop zone - with a game in hand. They host the Royals in April.

Meanwhile, despite showing admirable fight under Rooney, Derby head into Saturday's game on the back of three straight losses. They are two points adrift of Barnsley, having played two games more.

On facing a side managed by Rooney, Styles, who went to the same school as another Manchester United legend in Paul Scholes, said: ​"I don't really think about that.

"My focus is on Barnsley and getting us out of this situation and doing what I can do to help the team. We should not look around the table too much or at any other position as we can only effect what happens.

"We have just got to keep fighting. As soon as he (Poya Asbaghi) came in, we saw his qualities, knowledge of the game and tactics and all bought into it.

"Unfortunately, we did not get a win straightaway which some new managers ultimately do. But the performances were there, even though we are coming out with losses which shouldn't have. It was really disappointing, but with the performances being there, the belief was always there."