Conor Chaplin has not enjoyed watching Barnsley’s last two games from home but is excited to get back on the pitch in a competition he has fond memories of on Sunday.
The 23-year-old striker missed the win at Rotherham United and the loss at Norwich City as he was a close contact of goalkeeper Brad Collins who tested positive for Covid-19 along with captain Alex Mowatt. But he has returned to training.
Chaplin told the Chronicle: “I watched on iFollow. It was frustrating. I hate watching from the sidelines, I get itchy feet and it’s horrible. But that is the situation at the moment. It’s done now and I can’t wait to get back and help the team. It probably made it more frustrating that I didn’t actually test positive but that’s just the world we live in.
“The break might benefit me in the future but I would rather be playing.
“Matchday is the best day of the week and I struggle when that is taken away.”
He added: “I am lucky because I have just had a gym put into my garage.
“I have a bike and some equipment in there so I have been able to keep fit.”
Barnsley’s next game is on Sunday in the FA Cup against League Two Tranmere Rovers. Chaplin netted twice in that competition last season and has fond memories of watching boyhood club Portsmouth lift the trophy in 2008.
“They are memories that will never leave me. I couldn’t get a ticket for the 2008 final. They were like golddust. But I want to the celebrations, even though I was miles away from the stage because of the crowds. The scenes were unbelievable and I remember those feelings and emotions vividly from my childhood.
“I have good memories of playing in the FA Cup and I enjoy playing in it. When I was at Portsmouth, we were in League Two and we beat Ipswich who were in the Championship, and I scored. I scored in both games last year and I will be looking to add to that.”
Chaplin scored 13 goals in all competitions last season – his first at Oakwell – and has two in 21 games this campaign, with none in ten since opening the scoring at Derby County on November 7.
“I don’t get bogged down with it because I am happy with how I am playing. I want to score and assist more in the second half of the season, I am not happy with those numbers one bit. But sometimes the ball falls for you and sometimes it doesn’t. I am not naive to think that it falls for you all the time.
“I said that last season when I was scoring goals.”
Chaplin has mainly been playing in one of the wide roles in Valerien Ismael’s front three, which has been bolstered by the arrival this week of striker Carlton Morris. Chaplin said: “I think it’s good.
“You want competition and you want to see the club is trying to improve. Without competition you can drift through the training sessions.
“Training goes up a notch naturally when you get new signings.”
Experienced midfielder Matty James left Oakwell this week after the Reds decided not to extend his loan. Chaplin said: “It would be a blow to any team in the Championship but we have players there who are ready to step in. They have learned from Jamo, how he acts and picked his brains. They are ready now. We have a lot of strength and talent in that area. Jamo was brilliant for us, very well-liked in the dressing room, a lovely guy and good on the pitch as well. His personality will be missed but other people need to grow into that role.”
The Reds are currently ninth in the Championship, three points off the play-offs. Chaplin said: “We didn’t expect we would be this high. But we did think we would be better – more equipped and experienced. We didn’t have strength in depth last year but now we do. We are not satisfied. We want to get to 50 points as soon as we can, then reassess things.”