Kenny Dougall admits watching Barnsley’s relegation fight from the sidelines has been tough but believes he can offer more leadership and experience to the side after his return from injury.

The 26-year-old Australian midfielder made his first appearances since March this week as he played in the Championship for the first time.  He claims he has been fit for more than a month but previous head coach Daniel Stendel had refused to pick him. 

He said: “Whenever you’re not in the squad, injured or not picked, it is frustrating – especially when the team is bottom of the league and it’s not going well. But I have got myself fit now and I just want to help us get up the league. I am a natural leader so hopefully I can help in that way.  The boys are all leaders but it’s difficult when times are tough because everyone looks at their own games.” 

Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City was Dougall’s first game since fracturing his leg in Doncaster in March.  He said: “It’s been 218 days. I felt good out there.  “The sport scientists and physios have got me fit.  I was tired at the end but overall I was just buzzing to be back.” 

Dougall played the defensive midfield role in the 3-5-2 formation which Murray changed to this week. He said: “It suits us perfectly. We worked on it for a couple of weeks in the international break. We are comfortable and know our roles.” 

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Dougall praised the impact of caretaker Adam Murray, saying: “He’s brought great enthusiasm and I can’t say a bad word about him.  “The last few weeks have been really positive in training and the lads are starting to gel.  “It’s difficult circumstances whenever a manager goes. But everyone’s position is up for grabs and the intensity in training has lifted.”