Callum Styles feels ‘massively recovered’ after a rare break from playing following a brutal schedule.
The 20-year-old missed Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Swansea City after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Preston North End four days earlier which earned him a one-match ban.
Styles had started all 12 of Valerien Ismael’s games – including eight in 25 days – while playing 90 minutes in ten of them. He is available to return to the side for Saturday’s Yorkshire derby at home to Huddersfield Town.
Styles told the Chronicle: “I feel massively recovered now because playing that many games in such a short space of time is a massive strain on your body – especially playing 90 minutes nearly every game. The gap has let my body recover and I feel fresh.
“We will be looking for another win. With it being a derby, we turned the tide at Sheffield Wednesday so there’s no reason we can’t do the same against Huddersfield. There will be a bit more fight and aggression in a derby so hopefully we can manage that and get the three points.”
Styles watched the loss at Swansea on iFollow. He said: “It was a bit strange because I have been playing and we’ve been winning a lot. It was frustrating to miss the game and disappointing to watch us lose. It looked like a tired performance, and the pitch obviously didn’t help and made it not a nice game to watch. It was about grinding out a result but we didn’t manage that. We’ll put it right against Huddersfield.”
Styles has excelled at left wing-back this season, despite being brought up as a central midfielder. He has made the most tackles per game of any Championship player while only top-scorer Cauley Woodrow has netted more for the Reds than his three including late winners against Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City.
His form has led to speculation that other clubs will try to buy him, although he is contracted until 2024 and the Reds have insisted they will not sell any key players in January. Styles said: “I am just focused on the games. I am enjoying my football at Barnsley. We’re winning and I am playing so I can’t ask for any more. I am just focused on that. It’s been good to get some goals. I just want to get some more and help the team win games. In terms of the tackling, it has come into my game playing this role and I have improved a lot defensively.
“I am happy to add that to my game.”
Barnsley are five points off the play-offs, having stayed up on the last day last season. Styles said: “The improvement has been massive. The team has changed a little bit and we’ve got really good results under the new gaffer. We just have to keep winning games because we have a good mentality and a good rhythm of picking up points.
“We know how to manage games.
“We want to look up the table and not down like last season.
“You always think about what you could achieve at the end of the season but you have to focus on the day to day work. If you think too far ahead, you won’t perform in the next game.”
Styles had not started for Barnsley a year ago, having signed in 2018 from Bury where he returned on loan for half a season before struggling to break into a promotion-bound Reds side.
He made five starts towards the end of last season, scoring his first career goal at Brentford as Gerhard Struber’s team stayed up on the final day.
This season he has started 15 of Barnsley’s 20 league matches.
He said: “It’s been a good year for me. The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone but, in terms of football, I have found my feet, I have been winning games and scoring goals.”