BEN WILLIAMS was delighted to play a game of football for Barnsley for the first time in more than a year this week.
The 22-year-old left-back has been out since last summer when he suffered a major knee injury during a pre-season training camp at St George’s Park.
He missed the whole of the 2020/21 season but is now fully recovered and played the second half of the Reds’ 2-1 friendly win at Rochdale on Wednesday.
Williams told the Chronicle: “It was a very good moment to be back on the pitch. I enjoyed every minute.
“It was a good run-out and the first pre-season game for the boys.
“It was enjoyable. I am looking forward to the next games now.
“This is the first match I played in a year. I can be sharper and my fitness could be better but that will come with more games.
“This is what I was working towards when I was out for so long and it doesn’t get much better than that feeling of coming back after a long injury”.
Williams is the only senior player at the club whose natural position is left wing-back. But Callum Styles excelled there last season, before being used in his natural central midfield role on Wednesday, while right-sided Jordan Williams played the first half on the left at Rochdale and Clarke Oduor has also been an option.
Williams said: “We have a few players who can play there and it’s good to have that strength in depth. Anyone can slot in there and do a job.
“It’s up for grabs. We’ll all be pushing each other for the shirt.”
Williams has previously praised Valerien Ismael for his support during the injury, but the Frenchman has now moved to West Bromwich Albion and been replaced as head coach by Markus Schopp. Williams said: “I have a lot of respect for Valerien Ismael for all the support he gave me. But things change in football. The new gaffer came in, pulled me to one side and he obviously knows what I’m all about.
“He just said he was looking forward to working with me. We’ll see how pre-season goes then the new season.”
Schopp is understood to favour a more passing style to Ismael’s ‘direct’ approach.
Williams said: “We showed in Rochdale what we have been working on in the last couple of weeks, which is keeping the ball and playing it out from the back.
“The lads are all enjoying it.”