Michal Helik on the key role of his 'good mate' Mads Andersen at Barnsley FC

AS much as the input of good friends Carlton Morris and Cauley Woodrow is likely to be essential in Barnsley's quest to get themselves out of their parlous Championship predicament, so the contribution of two other great mates is just as key - if not moreso.

Mads Andersen. Picture: Getty Images.

Michal Helik and Mads Andersen' s importance to the Reds cause is inestimable. They were vital cogs in the club's rise to the play-offs in 2020-21 and will be heavily leaned upon in the Oakwell outfit's latest fight at the other end of the table.

A successful partnership in the heart of the Reds' defence - with the pair having recently re-united following Andersen's absence through injury - they are also close off the pitch, as Helik explains.

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He said: "We are good mates and are always talking to each other around the club and out of the club.

"We have a good connection and he is a really good guy and player and I am so happy to have him next to me on the pitch. I like to play with him and I think we can create a really good defensive line together as we did last year.

“Sometimes, I am shouting and then Mads is and that’s why the relationship is really good. When I am talking less, Mads is talking more and then it is the other way around. We are just trying to help each on and off the pitch."

Further forward, Morris's contribution last weekend was there for all to see as he scored his first goal since April in the 1-1 derby draw with Huddersfield Town.

It was his leadership and industry and not necessarily his well-taken strike which left the biggest impression on head coach Poya Asbaghi.

The 36-year-old, whose side visit Preston on Saturday in North End manager Ryan Lowe's first game in charge, commented: "He was definitely one of the best players on the pitch.

"He can hold up and protect the ball in a good way with defenders at his back and take on defenders one versus one and he is not only contributing in an offensive way.

"I also see the progress in training in terms of knowledge how to defend and how to help the team as a collective and make us good at pressing. He is contributing a lot with that. He is symbolising a lot of what we want with players, hard-working players who can mix this with good offence.

"We need all the players - and not just the starting 11 - to create the right atmosphere here at our training ground where everyone wants to play, including those who knock on the door as that will raise the level of everybody. When I looked last week, it looked like that and we improved a lot as a team."