Cauley Woodrow admits it is frustrating for his best ever personal season to have been paused but is trying to distance himself from the ‘unimportant’ football campaign during the coronavirus crisis.
The EFL have announced that they are no longer planning to return as scheduled on April 30 and the season is suspended indefinitely. It is understood that clubs have been told by the EFL not to return to training until mid-May at the earliest, while they are hoping to complete the campaign behind closed doors. The EFL believe the season could be completed in 56 days.
The Reds have not trained at Oakwell for four weeks and have been following individual programmes from home while seeing news of the rising death tolls in the UK and around the world. Woodrow told the Chronicle: “As footballers and fans, we get so wrapped up in football and think it is the be all and end all which means absolutely everything. But it’s such an unimportant thing in the grand scheme of things. People are dying every single day which is tragic and so so sad. You need to take a step back and realise you’re not that important and there are a lot of bigger things going on in the world at the moment.”
Woodrow has 34 goals in 71 games for Barnsley since signing from Fulham, initially on loan, at the start of last season in which he helped the Reds to automatic promotion from League One. He is the Reds’ top-scorer this season with 15 in all competitions while his 14 in the Championship is one short of Chris O’Grady’s record for the most in a second tier campaign for the Reds since the turn of the century.
He said: “It is frustrating. “I had a good season in League One then a really good season in the Championship but it will be like another pre-season. I carried on my goal-scoring record from League One after a break, and I have come back from injuries well, so I will continue to do that when we come back. It sounds bad, but it’s been good to have a bit of a rest and get over a few aches and pains which have gone now. I am training outside on my own every day. Normally people just go out for jogs but, when you’re on a field and doing football drills, they are probably thinking ‘what is he up to?’ My mum keeps telling me to chill out a bit because you don’t know when you are going to have a break like this again.”
Woodrow would have been returning to first club Luton Town for a Good Friday fixture today if the season had not been postponed. He said: “It’s crazy really. No one ever ever thought this would happen. It would have been a massive game. I have tried to forget about the season as much as I can and focus on staying fit and staying at home. But it is crazy to think we would only be a few weeks away from the end of the season.”
Asked for a message to the fans, Woodrow said: “We miss playing as much as they miss coming to watch. We look forward to seeing them all soon hopefully but I’d tell them to stay healthy and, it is a cliche, but please stay at home.”Barnsley have not played for 34 days since a 2-0 home loss to Cardiff City on March 7 which left them bottom of the Championship and seven points from safety with nine games remaining. We definitely believe we will stay up. After this has all gone, it will be nine games and we will come up against some teams who are in mid-table and not fighting for anything. It will be a real opportunity for us to take points off them.”
Barnsley head coach Gerhard Struber suggested last week that he would be willing to take a paycut to help Barnsley survive financially through the coronavirus crisis. Premier League players have announced that they will be donating money to help the NHS while some clubs have announced temporary paycuts for their first team players. Asked about taking a pay reduction in the future, Woodrow said: “We have spoken to the CEO (Dane Murphy) a little bit but everything is carrying on as normal for now. In terms of the Premier League, the lads are on a lot more money. We are a young squad. But, if this continues, we will look at it and it would be something we would be prepared to do.”
Footballers have received criticism as some clubs’ non-playing staff have been put on furlough, while the players have been receiving their full wage. Woodrow said: “It’s an emotional time and people point fingers at other people. Footballers do a lot for the community, they go to schools and hospitals. I know lots of players who do charity work and no one knows about it.”