Millwall v Barnsley: Determined Wabara keen to prove himself to Johnson

LEE JOHNSON’S astute recruitment policy in reigniting the careers of players who had failed to fulfil early potential at bigger clubs earned him much kudos at previous club Oldham.
Reece Wabara.Reece Wabara.
Reece Wabara.

The likes of Jonathan Forte, Liam Kelly and James Wilson and several more were all handed kick-starts by Johnson during his time with the Latics, which he famously labelled as a ‘home for the unloved.’

Now at Oakwell, the Barnsley head coach is again aiming to provide a sanctuary to kick-start the career of his latest signing in the shape of Reece Wabara, in the squad to face Millwall.

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The 23-year-old, who started his career at Manchester City and has previously captained England Under-20’s, has joined Barnsley until December, having failed to secure a move to the Championship after leaving Doncaster Rovers at the end of last season.

“If you can get players like that at the right time and get them to put their blind faith in you as a coach and a club, then you can really turn them around,” said Johnson.

“I think I have proved that with five or six players who I have sold previously at my last club and some business we have done for this club as well.

“We have put Reece on a contract where he has to prove himself. But he doesn’t have to prove his ability. He doesn’t have to improve his intelligence, but the desire to be the best he can be.

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“I believe him when I sat in front of him and looked in his eyes. He made a big play to come here himself, which was interesting because it was one (move) we were not really interested in due to other elements outside football. But he convinced us otherwise. His contract is weighted completed in favour of us and that shows a real good sign.”

Barnsley head to a Lions side wounded and seeking to get back in supporters’ good books after a humiliating 4-0 home loss to Coventry City. Johnson believes it is another good test for his side.

He said: “It’s a really tough environment to play there. I think our players should embrace it and go there with no fear.”

Last six games: Millwall LDLWDL; Barnsley DLWLDW

Referee: D Whitestone (Northants).

Last time: Millwall 1 Barnsley 0; November 23, 2013; Championship.