Michael Sollbauer heading out of Barnsley FC and back to Europe

BARNSLEY defender Michael Sollbauer is set to return to the continent to be closer to his young family.

Michael Sollbauer: Barnsley’s Austrian defender is heading back to the continent.
Michael Sollbauer: Barnsley’s Austrian defender is heading back to the continent.

The Austrian-born centre-half, 31, who had a year left on his deal at Oakwell, was widely viewed as a catalyst for the Reds’ ‘Great Escape’ in the second half of the 2019-20 campaign after being brought in by former head coach Gerhard Struber from old club Wolfsberger AC in January, 2020.

Sollbauer made 18 starts in all competitions following his arrival in South Yorkshire and featured 43 times in Barnsley’s Championship play-off season in 2020-21.

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But he found his starting opportunities more restricted from January onwards with Toby Sibbick often preferred in the starting line-up by ex-head coach Valerien Ismael in the second half of the year.

Michael Sollbauer holds off Luton's James Collins during his first season (Picture: Tony Johnson)

His last appearance for the club came in the final away game of the regular season at Preston and he was afforded no involvement in the play-offs, where he was an unused substitute in both legs against Swansea City in the semi-finals.

Covid restrictions have ensured that Sollbauer has spent all of his time in England away from his family and he is now expected to head back to mainland Europe with a move lined up to an unnamed club.

Sollbauer’s family did not see the Reds player in action at his place of work and have had to follow his fortunes via the internet and television.

Speaking about the difficulties last September, he said: “The situation is not easy as Austria is on the list for self-isolation.

“My family are home now and it is not that easy, but we have to find a way to handle it.

“I have a small boy, but we will deal with it and hope the situation will get better.”