ZEKI FRYERS has already lifted the FA Youth Cup playing alongside World Cup winner Paul Pogba at Manchester United seven years ago.
Now he wants to make his mark in the senior FA Cup.
Fryers realises it is unlikely that Barnsley will reach this season’s final though Notts County manager Harry Kewell knows to his cost that the Reds came mightily close to that aim just eight years ago.
Barnsley left-back Fryers, struck by ankle and knee problems in pre-season at Stockport, agrees, however, with head coach Daniel Stendel that reaching this season’s third round is the minimum requirement at Oakwell.
He made his second appearance of the week and season for the Reds and scored their second goal as they coasted into the second round by moving up the gears after the interval.
Stendel would love Barnsley to progress and earn a crack against fellow German coach Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the third round.
It’s brilliant. I’m delighted with the win. It’s my second 90 minutes in a week. The legs started to feel it but I am delighted to be getting the game-time. I am just trying to get as fit as I can now that I am back from injuryBarnsley’s Zeki Fryers
The Reds from South Yorkshire caused an almighty shock in the fifth round at Anfield in 2007-08 when Kewell came off the bench in the second half but could not prevent Brian Howard scoring in the last minute to earn Barnsley a 2-1 win en route to a narrow semi-final defeat against Cardiff City.
Immediate promotion back to the Championship is the priority at Oakwell but both Stendel and Fryers agree that an FA Cup run could go hand in glove.
Fryers, who left Manchester United against the wishes of manager Alex Ferguson and moved on to Standard Liege, Tottenham – for £3m – and Crystal Palace, from where he enjoyed a 10-game loan spell at Rotherham, was left beaming by how his comebacks have gone.
“It’s brilliant. I’m delighted with the win. It’s my second 90 minutes in a week. The legs started to feel it but I am delighted to be getting the game-time. I am just trying to get as fit as I can now that I am back from injury,” said the 26-year-old.
“We definitely want to do well in the FA Cup. It is a given that you want to do well in the league and try and get promoted but if we can go far in the cup it will be a massive bonus, especially if we can get a draw against a big team. That is what you want.”
Fryers calmly raced into the area to tuck away a low, driven cross from Brad Potts to make it 2-0 in the 53rd minute.
“I have been playing either centre-back or left-back but at left-back you can get forward more and find yourself in areas where you can shoot, like I did today. Hopefully, I can continue that,” he said, having played in the heart of the defence in the EFL Trophy against Everton Under-21s in midweek.
His goal followed the opener from another player on the comeback trail. Cauley Woodrow made it three Barnsley ‘debuts’ inside eight days, having come on as a substitute in League One before starting in both the Trophy and in the FA Cup after a prolonged spell out with hamstring issues.
The Fulham loanee striker, whose move is due to be made permanent in January, volleyed home in the 48th minute after central defender Elliott Ward diverted the ball into his oncoming path at the far post.
Fryers continued: “Both me and Cauley have been joking about our injuries but we are both back and to both score is nice. Hopefully, all the injury problems are behind us and we can go forward and help the team.
“I am just happy to play really after being injured for such a while. It’s been so frustrating because when you get a new manager pre-season is the chance to impress and show him what you can do so when you get injured you feel like you can’t do that. We have had lots of chats, though, and, luckily, he has given me an opportunity and there is more to come.”
Fryers’ ambition is to get back playing at the highest level possible again, hopefully with Barnsley. “Yes, I have played for some big clubs but I am now older and a bit more wiser and I have the ability and quality and it is just a question of getting the consistency and having the opportunities to play.
“I am only 26 and have plenty of time to show what I can do. The idea is to get back up there in the Championship and for me to show what I can do.
“These cup games have given me the opportunity because it is hard to change a winning side in the league.”
After Fryers had made it 2-0, County’s resistance evaporated and the League Two strugglers would have suffered an even more damaging defeat had it not been for some inspired goalkeeping from Ross Fitzsimons and wayward finishing.
A stretching Potts had gone close to converting Kieffer Moore’s low cross but the pair combined again and this time Potts tapped home from inside the six-yard area.
The fourth came when a corner was cleared back to Mamadou Thiam and he chipped the ball back across for an unmarked Moore to stoop forward and head home inside the six-yard area.
Moore could and perhaps should have had a hat-trick but Barnsley comfortably earned their place in tonight’s draw.
Barnsley: Davies, Cavare (Brown 67), Pinnock, Lindsay, Fryers; McGeehan, Mowatt (Hedges 77); Potts, Woodrow (Bahre 67), Thiam; Moore. Unused substitutes: Greatorex, , Moncur, Jackson, Pinillos.
Notts County: Fitzsimmons, Turley, Brisley, Ward, Evina (Dunn 82); Boldewijn, Hewitt, Milsom, Alessandra; Thomas (Jones 72), Dennis (Etete 72). Unused substitutes: Pindroch, Duffy, Hawkridge, Davies.
Referee: S Stockbridge (Co Durham).