Toby Sibbick is relishing the battle with Michael Sollbauer for the starting place on the right of Barnsley’s back three going into the play-offs.
The pair have been rotated since January by head coach Valerien Ismael who has said he will play Sollbauer when he believes the Austrian’s experience will be more useful and Sibbick when he wants more pace.
Sibbick had started three successive games but has been on the bench for the last three, replacing Sollbauer after 51 minutes against Rotherham United then at half-time in Preston on Saturday. Sibbick told the Chronicle: “We respect each other as players on and off the pitch. If the gaffer thinks he’s more suited for a game, I am more than happy to sit on the bench. If he’s in the team and we win, I don’t care if I am not playing. It’s whoever suits each game. I am ready when the gaffer wants me and so is Sole.
“It’s a team game and we train hard every day. We’re both more than happy to share the role.”
Sibbick and his team-mates were thrilled to secure a place in the Championship play-offs with two league matches left.
“We are very proud, so are the fans and so are our friends and family. If you were to tell people at the start of the season that we would finish in the play-offs, no one would believe you. To go out there and work hard with determination every week, it’s proven that we deserve to be there because the league table doesn’t lie.”
Sibbick signed from AFC Wimbledon in 2019 and played regularly until the sacking of Daniel Stendel then loans in 2020 to Hearts and Oostende.
His move to Belgium was due to be made permanent but the manager never played him so he returned to Oakwell in January.
“Even when I was in Belgium, looking in from abroad, the team were doing really well, getting big results and I thought they could do something special.
“Then when we went on a winning streak in February, that’s when we really started to believe and set our targets high.
“For me personally, it’s a great story. I am happy that the gaffer put his trust in me and I can contribute to the team on and off the pitch.”
Barnsley lost 2-0 in Preston and now host champions Norwich City tomorrow. Sibbick said: “With us securing our place in the play-offs, it could have been a little bit of a lapse in concentration. But that can’t be an excuse, we need to get back to our best and have momentum going into the play-offs. We have to get it out of our system and move forward to Norwich who are a top side, a Premier League team now. We want to go out and showcase our talent. We need a good performance and a win to give us more confidence and belief going into the play-offs.”