Aapo Halme is hoping this season ends with Barnsley staying in the Championship then him playing in the European Championships. 

Finland have qualified for their first major tournament and, while Halme has never been called up to the senior squad, he has captained the under 21s in each of three international breaks so far this season.

The 21-year-old told the Chronicle: “I do think about it. It would be a dream come true. I think that how I play here and how the team plays is massive to help me to get to the national team. The coach will watch my games and think if he wants to take me there.  Everyone is so excited for the summer to support Finland.”

Halme is hoping that Barnsley, who he joined last summer from Leeds United, can win their battle against relegation from the Championship. He said: “It’s hard when you lose games and you don’t play well. Our strength is that we are a team and we don’t have big egos. The belief has always been there but it obviously helps that we got important wins, and now we need to keep this momentum going. You learn from the hardest times and then you appreciate the good times more.”

Halme was originally signed as a centre-back but Gerhard Struber used him at the base of a midfield diamond in a 4-4-2 for several months. He said: “I have played my whole career as a centre-back so I am more comfortable there but I think I played good games in midfield. You have to win the second balls then pass to the other midfielders and the strikers. I can play both, whatever helps the team.”

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Halme has recently moved back into defence alongside experienced January signing Michael Sollbauer, and the pair kept clean sheets in the wins over Fulham, Middlesbrough and Hull. He said: “He has the experience, he has played a great career and he helps young guys to get confidence and focus. He talks a lot on the pitch and everyone can learn from him. I can focus more on my game because he is doing the organising and talking.”

Halme has played 27 games for the Reds this season. He said: “I like to think I have learned a lot. The hardest part is that we have had so many games and you have to be focused in every single game in this league.”

He has scored three goals which makes him the third joint top-scorer in the team after strikers Conor Chaplin and Cauley Woodrow. He said: “We haven’t been very good on set pieces or scored many goals from them. As a team, we have to improve on set pieces and, for myself, I want to score more goals to help the team. With defending set pieces, we have done a lot of training and tried to be organised and focused. It looks and feels better now.” 

Halme is currently on nine bookings and, if he receives ten before the cut-off point of 37 games, he will be banned for two matches.