Barnsley v Rotherham United: Aidy White hot and out to show what Millers are missing

DO not talk to Aidy White about watching Jeff Stelling and co on Soccer Saturday.

Aidy White launching a raid for Barnsley in the Championship game against Derby

For the Barnsley full-back, Sky Sports’ popular preview and results service is a sign of some grim times in the latter stages of his time at boyhood club Leeds United and then during the closing stages of his time at today’s opponents Rotherham United.

Sanctuary has been found at Oakwell, with the Horsforth player back doing the day job and rewinding the clock to happier times earlier in his career at Elland Road when he bombed down the flanks with intent and proved a tenacious defender.

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Given what he has been through over the course of his career so far, few would begrudge him that.

Saturday, the culmination of the working week for a footballer, has substance again.

It had been a bereft time, and day, largely to forget during a tough final two seasons in West Yorkshire, which proved a test of mental endurance and fortitude.

A hoped-for renaissance at Rotherham failed to transpire either.

It was a few junctions back up the M1 that White was to find redemption to cast aside his injury demons at Leeds and time at the New York Stadium, where he found himself out of the picture after Neil Redfearn replaced Steve Evans.

For White, who had featured just 19 times in a near two-year spell encompassing both clubs before linking up with Barnsley last November, it is a case of making hay while the sun shines.

Set to line up against former club Millers this afternoon, he said: “I had a couple of tough years through injuries and other things and going to Barnsley has been a great move for me with the promotion and JP Trophy win last season and playing week-in, week-out.

“It has been fantastic and I am enjoying it.

“The injuries were a real low point. It was tough on Saturday when the lads were playing away and you were bored out of your head sat at home watching the footy. Then when they are at home and you are sat in the stands, it is also not very nice.

“I am glad to be back playing football and being fully fit and getting a run of games.

“The last six to eight months have probably been one of my career highlights. It’s been brilliant and, hopefully, it will continue with us establishing ourselves in the Championship.”

On his failure to crack it at today’s opponents, a pragmatic White added: “I played quite a lot of games in the Championship and it just didn’t work out for whatever reason at Rotherham.

“They brought me in as a winger and the style of play that they had was quite direct. They had a change of manager and Redders obviously had his own way of doing things and it was a different style of play as well and I did not fit into that.

“It is football and part and parcel of it. The move to Barnsley was a blessing in disguise really.

“I definitely feel I am a Championship player and am capable of playing at this level. I have showed that in the past and want to be playing higher if possible.”

While issues of style worked against White at Rotherham, the footballing ethos of Lee Johnson and now head coach Paul Heckingbottom has ensured a rosier time of it in the Dearne Valley.

Barnsley’s high-tempo ‘up-and-at-them’ credo based on fast transition football suits White, a player blessed with more than a yard or two of pace.

So, too, has working for someone who truly believes in him in Heckingbottom.

He added: “The style of play suits me here. I am very forward-minded as a defender and with Adam (Hammill) on the left, we have a strong attacking side, although I have got to do my defensive job.

“Getting forward has always been my mentality and the style of the manager suits me to a tee and he gives me the freedom to express myself, but to be sensible with it.

“Paul has been unbelievable and deserves all the credit. To come in as he did and keep our run going was very hard and he was brilliant. As an individual, he is very relaxed and it works well with the group and his approach has been very beneficial.

“Although on occasions, when someone needs a telling-off, he is definitely not shy. He’s just a very good manager.”

The collective efforts of White and his team-mates left a scorching trail during a jet-paced second half of last season in League One and an express mark has also been made at Championship level.

Victory today would take Barnsley’s haul to a creditable nine points from a possible 15, which would back up White’s theory that the Reds are not in the division merely to make up the numbers.

He added: “Last season, it was crazy to think we were bottom of the league. To turn that around was a fantastic achievement and confidence grew and as soon as new players joined the squad, it kind of spiralled.

“We didn’t think or feel we were going to lose any game and took that winning mentality into every game and won promotion.

“We have got some very good players who are fairly young. We have got to take the same approach as we did last season.

“It is obviously a tougher league, but over the four games so far, we have shown we are definitely capable of performing at this level. Hopefully, that can continue.

“Everyone says it’s about staying up, but we are trying to achieve a lot more than that. You have to push higher as if you just settle on surviving, you might find it difficult.”