Former Barnsley captain Stephen Foster believes the club’s survival in the Championship this season would be an even bigger achievement than the 2013 ‘great escape’ which he was involved in.

Seven years ago, the Reds stayed up on a dramatic final day after a 2-2 draw at Huddersfield Town having been seven points adrift of safety – the same distance that the current side is attempting to claw back in the last nine games. Foster said: “This would be an even bigger achievement. What we did felt so massive and those things don’t happen very often. But we showed it can be done and, in football, you can never say never. They just need to keep fighting until the end. I certainly hope they do it because I love Barnsley and follow their results. This Barnsley side has some real quality in it. The likes of Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin will always get you goals, but they have struggled to keep them out at the other end. You definitely can’t write them off yet.” 

Whereas the 2013 side had stalwarts such as Foster and Bobby Hassell as well as other experienced signings, this current Barnsley team is one of the youngest in the EFL.  Foster said: “Experience gets you a long way in football. We had players like Marlon Harewood and Jason Scotland, as well as Rory Delap who played a few games. They all had played in the Premier League and played a lot of football and they helped us a lot. Experience just brings that calmness in games to do the right thing at the right time.” 

Foster, who played 244 games in six years at Oakwell, was released the week after the Huddersfield match then joined Tranmere Rovers but retired months later.  He said: “Staying up like that was a good way to end my time at Barnsley, although I didn’t want to leave. I expected to be released but I was still upset. I went to Tranmere and I thought ‘this isn’t Barnsley’. It didn’t really work out for me there.” 

Foster and his wife, who is a psychologist, own a building in Warrington which they rent out to medical professionals but it has been closed due to the coronavirus. He said: “It’s been a tough old time for us like a lot of businesses, but we are just trying to ride the wave then look to bounce back. We were left with no option but to close.”