Ryan Hedges says his Wales call-up is a huge confidence boost after one of the most difficult periods of his career saw him left out of the Barnsley side that was relegated from the Championship.

The 22-year-old winger has played 34 games for the Reds since joining from Swansea City in January last year, but only eight of them have been Championship starts. He played regularly at the start of this season, scoring three goals in the first four matches including late winners at Oakwell in the Carabao Cup against Morecambe and the league against Nottingham Forest.

But 20 of his 26 appearances this season came before Christmas, as he started just once in the final six months. He was barely used by head coach Jose Morais who took over for the last 15 matches. Hedges was left out of the 18-man squad for the final three fixtures of the season and was in the away end with the Barnsley fans for the 4-1 loss at Derby County on May 6 which relegated the Reds into League One.

Hedges told the Chronicle: "It was good to be with the fans at Derby, because they are a credit to the club. They seem to appreciate that most of the players were putting 100 per cent in for the club. It was a bad day but we will bounce back.

"It's never nice to be relegated but especially when you are left out of the team and don't have a chance to make an impact on the team. It was frustrating, I was injured around Christmas so missed a lot of games in a short period then the new manager came in and I never really got back in the side.

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"The last few games were probably one of the toughest times I have had because I just wasn't involved at all at such an important time for the club. Next season I want to be starting most if not all the games, scoring and creating goals and helping Barnsley get straight back into the Championship."

Hedges was relegated from League One with Leyton Orient while on loan from Swansea but says it was more painful to go down with Barnsley, who are looking for a new head coach after sacking Morais.

Hedges said: "It hurts you much more when it is your parent club. It's a suckerpunch and all the lads are hurting. But you have to look forward and try to put it right next season. We have a really good squad and promotion has to be the aim.

"A lot of us have experience of League One and we know we can do well. We're all looking forward to coming back for pre-season, getting to know the new coach, whoever that is, then going again for next season."

While his club season has been frustrating, Hedges has had a breakthrough campaign with the Wales national team. He made his debut in a friendly against Panama in November then came off the bench in March in the final of the China Cup which Wales lost 1-0 to Uruguay in Nanning.

He will be looking to make his third international appearance against Mexico on May 29 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California after being named in the squad by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs who is now Wales manager. He is currently at a training camp with fellow Barnsley players Tom Bradshaw and Adam Davies.

He said: "I am really enjoying it. I want to build on my experiences previously with Wales and hopefully get a third cap. It's great to be here with Davo and Bradders as well. We are all close and me and Bradders have a good partnership as a winger and striker so hopefully that benefits us both going forward with Wales and Barnsley.

"I am a Manchester United fan and a Welshman and a winger so obviously Ryan Giggs is my idol. To work with him is a fantastic experience and I am learning a lot. It's a massive confidence boost for me after a difficult couple of months that he has kept faith with me and put me in the squad."