TOBY Sibbick is set to make his 50th Barnsley appearance tomorrow, a milestone he thought he would not reach.
The 22-year-old centre-back joined from AFC Wimbledon in 2019 and played 18 games that year then, after being loaned out to Hearts and Oostende in 2020 but featuring just twice, he has played 31 times in 2021 including starts in all five of league fixtures this season.
Sibbick told the Chronicle: “I am just grateful to have reached the landmark.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey, I have learned a lot about myself and become mentally stronger. When I went on loan to Belgium it was a loan to buy so I thought that was it for me at Barnsley. But I’ve got another chance here and I feel like I am taking it. I just want to keep working hard and play even more.”
The majority of the Reds’ first 11 now have 50 games for the club – with Romal Palmer and Clarke Oduor also closing in on the milestone – and Sibbick feels that is positive for a young squad often accused of lacking experience.
“The boys are comfortable with each other now and know each other well.
“Not selling anyone from the first team this season shows the intent of the club to keep building on last year.”
Barnsley’s last game at tomorrow’s hosts Bournemouth was a 3-2 victory in March which saw them come from 2-1 down. Sibbick said: “Bournemouth are a good team. They were in the Premier League not long ago. I think it will be a good game for the neutral because both teams want to pass the ball and press.
“We just want to implement our style of play and see how they cope with it.
“We’ll remember what we did last season, and we won’t drop our heads even if we go a goal down.”
Barnsley’s back three options are limited with Liam Kitching suspended and Mads Andersen injured.
That probably means that, unless the Reds change formation, Sibbick and Michal Helik will be joined by one of Jasper Moon or Aapo Halme who have started one league game each in 2021.
Sibbick said: “Everyone has faith in each other. If someone has to step out of the team, someone else can step in.
“It’s about learning and being there for each other and, whoever plays on Saturday, everyone will support them and coach them through the game.”
The injury-hit Reds have been joined by several new signings in the international break. Sibbick said: “Some teams have probably had their strongest squad but we haven’t yet.
“Once everyone is fit, I think we have a very strong team and we can achieve something special.
“The new signings look really good. Aaron (Leya Iseka) is something special. The things he does in training sometimes, you just have to stand and applaud. I think the fans will love him once he gets on the pitch. He has a lot of skill and he can finish as well.”
On his own season so far, Sibbick said: “It’s been up and down. I have made mistakes but I have faith in myself and the gaffer does as well. Sometimes fans get nervy when we play out from the back but they need to stick with us because against Birmingham we opened them up and scored. That’s the football people want to see.
“The gaffer has been telling us how he wants us to defend our box – that’s where we have struggled in recent games. We don’t want to play well for 45 to 60 minutes, we want to stay professional for the whole 90. We did it last season and we want to get back to it.”