Barnsley FC’s Herbie Kane ready to emerge from the shadow of Liverpool

HERBIE KANE never cracked it at first-team level at former club Liverpool, but he was provided with a rich education that money simply cannot buy.

Getting the message: Valerien Ismael  talks to Herbie Kane. Picture: Getty Images
Getting the message: Valerien Ismael talks to Herbie Kane. Picture: Getty Images

One of the biggest clubs in the world, the Anfield club also pride themselves on their humility.

It has been the case ever since the days of the iconic figure who put the Merseysiders on the road to glory in the shape of the late, great Bill Shankly.

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A son of Ayrshire, Shankly remained forever grounded. For his players, it was a privilege playing for Liverpool’s supporters as he once told those who convened at the city’s St George’s Hall. ‘Pressure is working down the pit,’ as he famously said.

Alex Mowatt: Forming partnership with herbie Kane. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Current manager Jurgen Klopp professed to being ‘the normal one’ at his unveiling in 2015 and the legends who will always be revered at Anfield – such as Dalglish, Gerrard and Carragher – pride themselves on their working-class values.

Kane is from the same stock – a humble Bristol lad who lives for football and not fame.

The Barnsley midfielder received bouquets in his early years at Liverpool. His idol, Steven Gerrard, tipped him for the top alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Back in 2017, Kane was in esteemed company alongside Kylian Mbappe, Matthias de Ligt and team-mates Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn on the initial longlist for the prestigious ‘Golden Boy’ award, handed out every year by journalists to the most promising player in Europe.

Barnsley's head coach Valerien Ismael. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Unlike others, it never quite happened for Kane at Anfield, with his two appearances coming in EFL Cup ties last season.

Kane – whose first-team experiences chiefly arrived at Doncaster Rovers and Hull City before heading to Oakwell for £1.25m in October – remains grateful.

Kane told The Yorkshire Post: “They have some world-class players and I learned loads of stuff from all those top players. Hopefully, I can carry it throughout my career along the way.

“They are such a tight group and all the players are comforting, willing to help and push you. It is a good squad there.

“Throughout the club, especially in the academy, they try and make you a better person and be humble. I have had lots of people messaging me and they just think I need game-time and being a main player in the first team. I am looking forward to doing that and I am glad I am here now.”

Having turned 22 in November, Kane – whose time in Yorkshire in the second half of last season was cut short by injury – is the first to appreciate that 2021 has the potential to be a key year for him.

No longer a kid, he is desperate for an extended run of games as he seeks to recapture the form that turned heads in his loan spell at Doncaster in 2018-19 – his display in Rovers’ game at Oakwell was arguably the best by an away player at Barnsley in that season.

The club’s decision not to bring back Matty James following his loan expiration presents him with a window of opportunity in midfield, hopefully alongside Reds captain Alex Mowatt.

With a fair wind, it could finally be Kane’s time after having to be patient early on at Oakwell. The time has at least allowed him to assimilate into Valerien Ismael’s high-pressing style.

Now he just needs a bit of luck after ankle and hamstring problems restricted him to just nine appearances at Hull in the second half of 2019-20.

He said: “I had a few injuries and niggles before and I think getting as many games as I can will really push me forward.

“It is football and injuries happen when you are playing at the top level and now I have worked hard to get back and I can get back into a rhythm.

“The more I play, the better I‘ll become. It (Barnsley style) took a bit of getting used to and I am trying to improve and buy into the way he wants to play and hopefully he can see the benefit of that.”

On playing alongside Mowatt, he added: “When we have been together, we have done well and he is a great player and I think it can be a good partnership.”

Kane may be on familiar territory in a county he knows well, but his support team remain at home in Bristol with Covid-19 restrictions meaning they are yet to see him in action.

Kane said: “My family have seen me on the TV and my dad has been to the stadium. But no-one else. They are looking forward to coming down when the fans are allowed. That will be lovely.

“My mum and dad are ‘magic’, and follow me around the country and love coming to games and support me so well and it helps massively and I appreciate that.

“I think my mum is getting fed up of my dad being in on Saturdays. They are looking forward to watching the games again.”

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