Captain Alex Mowatt is set to play his 100th Barnsley game at Reading tomorrow while he admits survival this season would be a better achievement than promotion last year. 

The 25-year-old midfielder admits he doubted if he would play this long for the Reds after being sent off on his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers in January 2017. After being loaned out to Oxford United the following season, he has become one of the star players with 12 goals in 99 appearances.

Mowatt told the Chronicle: “To play 100 games is definitely a big achievement, especially after the start I had at Barnsley with being sent off on my debut. Then I went out on loan, so to come back and get to 100 games is great. Since I have been back, I have loved every minute at the club.”

Mowatt also played more than 100 matches for his previous club Leeds United while he has made 250 appearances across his career. He said: “I have played a lot of games for my age and I just want to keep going and play every week.”

Mowatt was an ever-present during Barnsley’s promotion from League One last season. Several of that side left the club in the summer and the Reds found themselves nine points adrift earlier this month. But three straight wins without conceding have cut that gap to three points.

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Mowatt said: “I think, if we stay up, it would be bigger than last season. The promotion was fun and it was enjoyable to win most weeks then to go to Las Vegas to celebrate. But staying up in this league is really difficult, especially with the players we lost. It’s like a new team now so staying up would be a massive achievement.”  

Mowatt is expecting the battle at the bottom to last all season. He said: “It’s game on. The last couple of results have been really good. It is a dogfight at the bottom. It’s getting a lot tighter for everyone. All the teams in the bottom three have won in midweek so we’re dragging more teams in. The more teams involved, the better.

“We all check the scores after we win and it’s annoying when other teams down there have won. But we’re all fighting for our lives and that will carry on all season. The gaffer is mad on not letting standards slip. He wants to keep us in good spirits, good form and keep the run going.”

Mowatt has been playing recently at the base of Gerhard Struber’s 4-4-2 diamond formation. He said: “Sitting in front of the back four is new for me but I have quite enjoyed it. It lets me see the ball a lot more but I have to stay disciplined and do my defensive work.”