Michael Sollbauer is looking forward to ending a ‘crazy year’ with an eight-game month in December and hopefully a busy Christmas period on and off the pitch.

The 30-year-old Austrian centre-back was on a winter break with Wolfsberger when 2020 started but has since moved to Barnsley and helped them stay up in the final seconds of last season amid the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis. 

Sollbauer told the Chronicle: “It has been a crazy year for me, and a special one. I first moved abroad to England which was always a big dream of mine. 

“I am really happy to be at this club, we achieved a lot with the great escape. 

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“It has been really special. I am excited for the last month of the year, with eight games it is not normal for me. It will be the first time I am playing at Christmas. 

“In Austria, we have a break from the middle of December so it is very different but I am looking forward to it.”

Barnsley face Birmingham this week, the opponents who won at Oakwell in February to leave the Reds nine points adrift with 14 games left last season in which they eventually stayed up on the final day.

“We mentioned this week that it is a big strength for us as a team that we went through a really, really hard time. When you are not in the process like we are you cannot feel how difficult it was. But we stayed together and kept believing in a tough situation. Now it is good that we can handle any situation. 

“Even when we lose or we are upset, we are not fighting each other. We know how to bounce back from everything.” 

Sollbauer’s wife and young son remain in his home country but he is hoping they can join him in Barnsley soon. 

“They are still in Austria, but we will try to find a way for them to be here for Christmas. Austria has also been in lockdown. We are waiting to see if the rule changes. I hope that I can spend Christmas with my wife and my boy and I hope, by then, the fans are back at Oakwell.”

Sollbauer is enjoying playing in a back three with Michal Helik and Mads Andersen, with Aapo Halme as back-up. He said: “Michal is a new addition in the summer and it’s good to play a lot of games as a three. The communication is getting really good, we had some good performances and some clean sheets. Aapo is also part of it and also the goalkeeper Jack (Walton).”

Sollbauer plays on the right of the back three, next to the right wing-back who initially was Kilian Ludewig but is now Callum Brittain after the German left the club. 

“I am really excited about his performances, he did a really great job. He is a really great addition. We work well on the side and he is a strong partner.

“I had a good relationship with Kili but Callum is a good player who has an exciting future.”