West Brom v Barnsley FC: Matty Wolfe, Aiden Marsh, Jason Sraha and Oakwell academy provide source of pride

OVER THE years, Barnsley’s strong reputation for bringing through homegrown talent from their academy ranks has been a well-deserved one and the envy of many of their peers.

Amid a desperate campaign for Reds, the sight of several young players stepping up from the academy has been one of the few wholesome aspects of one of the toughest seasons in the club’s modern-day history.

With Barnsley’s absentee count stretching into double figures today, the relegated Reds will field a kindergarten line-up as they sign off the 2021-22 campaign this afternoon.

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Several – such as the likes of Matty Wolfe, Aiden Marsh and Jason Sraha – will at least take something from this season in terms of their personal development at least.

Matty Wolfe: One of the academy graduates to have prospered with Barnsley. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

Caretaker head coach Martin Devaney commented: “Marshy and Jason did really well last week and Jordan (Helliwell) coming on. It’s needs must at the minute and that’s why we have got an academy.

“It’s an opportunity where we have been relegated and there’s no pressure on the boys and we have to give them an opportunity. It would be silly of me if I didn’t.

“Those three did well last week, considering the environment and the mindset of us being relegated.

“It is a difficult environment to come into, but all we’ve done is tell them to enjoy it, work hard and show everyone what they are made of. I think they did that well at times (against Preston last weekend).”

Philip Billing is pulled back by Aaron Leya Iseka and Matty Wolfe. ( Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Monk-Bretton-raised Marsh, 18, was afforded a milestone moment after scoring his first senior goal for his hometown club last weekend – an important accomplishment in any young player’s career.

On whether he can become more of a regular next term, Devaney said: “It is down to him, isn’t it.

“He got his goal and worked really hard in the press and it’s now about working really hard through the summer and keeping grounded, which he and everyone around him will do and supporting him.

“Next season, he’s got to build on that, grab the opportunity and show everyone what he is capable of as I’m sure he will get opportunities.”

Barnsley are winless on their past six visits to the Hawthorns and were thrashed 7-0 at the Midlands venue on the final day of the 2006-07 campaign.

You have to go back almost 14 months for the Reds’ last away win on a Saturday, a 3-2 victory at Bournemouth on March 13, 2021.