WILL Hondermarck admits it has been a ‘very, very crazy’ last month which has seen him go from an under 23s trialist to playing his first two Barnsley games.
Following his release by Norwich City this summer, the midfielder had a trial at non-league Notts County, then the Reds’ under 23s a month ago and, after impressing in first team training amid others’ absences due to Covid and injuries, earned a contract two weeks ago.
The next day, he was on the bench at Bournemouth then made his Reds debut three days later in the 1-1 draw at Stoke City before playing the second half of the 0-0 home draw with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Hondermarck told the Chronicle: “It’s been very, very crazy in the last month but it’s worked out well for me.
“I came in on trial with the 23s and played a friendly against Sheffield Wednesday then, after about a week, I got the good news that the club wanted to move forward with me.
“I knew coming in there would be a chance in the first team if I did well but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly.
“It’s just a case of everything falling for me at the right time.
“It was a good fit for me and it’s been a smooth transition so far.
“I just want to continue on the path I am now and became an established player as soon as possible.
“It’s a very exciting club to join after how close they came to promotion last season. It’s a really young squad and a very good place to be.
“Markus (Schopp, head coach) and the whole staff have been very good with me, being there for me and just letting me play my game.”
Hondermarck came off the bench with ten minutes left at Stoke and found himself in the middle of a 20-man fracas in injury-time which saw three coaches sent off.
“It was a very rapid introduction to Championship football. You could feel the tension build on the bench then the first red card (to Tommy Smith) made it build to that kind of moment.
“To then play 45 minutes against Blackburn was very good and I didn’t expect it.
“I could show a bit more of what I can do.
“I don’t feel pressure from the fans and I focus on the game. There were about 15,000 fans there in both games so when you feel it for the first time it’s quite impressive.”
Hondermarck was born in France to French parents then the family moved to Dublin when he was six. He is delighted to be sharing a dressing room with several Frenchmen and Belgians including Claudio Gomes who he played alongside in central midfield on Saturday.
“It’s been weird but very good for me. I have always only spoken French at home and at Norwich there was one Belgian player. But here there are five French speakers.
“We have a good group who can speak our own language and it’s nice for all of us.
“When I was playing in central midfield with Claudio, we could switch to French when we were talking to each other. That was helpful.”
After playing schoolboy football, Hondermarck broke into the first team of Irish second division side Drogheda United before moving to Norwich in January 2019.
He was with the Carrow Road club for two promotions to the Premier League but did not play a first team game for them and, after playing three times on loan to League Two Harrogate Town earlier this year, he was released in the summer.
Hondermarck, who played for the Norwich under 23s with new Reds club-mate Carlton Morris, said: “It was very good, expecially for me coming from Ireland where the most I had done was train twice a week. I got to train with the first team and it was very very helpful.”
Asked to describe himself as a player, he said: “I am a box-to-box, very powerful and athletic. I am good defensively and offensively. I like to take chances and take risks.
“There is definitely still a bit to work on and certain areas I can improve but I didn’t expect to be perfect in my first two games.”