MADS ANDERSEN is ‘grateful’ for the injury that kept him out of the first 15 games of Barnsley’s season as it allowed him to learn more about himself and become mentally stronger.

The 23-year-old centre-back hurt his knee in pre-season and was sidelined for almost four months before returning at Bristol City on Saturday.

Andersen told the Chronicle: “It has made me mentally stronger, for sure.

“I have had a lot of good experiences that I will take with me.

“I am grateful for this injury because I learned a lot, which is a good thing.

“I learned more about my body and how to treat it. And what I can do to stay positive. I have learned to trust the process and a lot of other things.

“Hopefully what I have learned will help stop me getting an injury like this again because it’s not what you want as a footballer.”

Andersen’s last game before this week was in the play-off semi-final at Swansea in May, with Barnsley two wins from the Premier League. He returned to a side in the relegation zone.

“It is what it is.

“We have to be present in life in general. This is the situation we’re in so it’s the situation we have to face. It’s tough to play a relegation fight, definitely tougher than being in the play-offs.”

Andersen’s first season at Oakwell saw the Reds fail to win in 17 league games before they stayed up on the final day.

“We can take belief from that season. We saved ourselves in the last minute of the last game so we must always keep going.”

Andersen was inexperienced at that point but now only captain Cauley Woodrow has played more Championship games in this Barnsley squad.

“I am definitely a different player now.

“I want to help the young guys and help my team-mates as much as I can.”

Andersen played at Oakwell with no restrictions on fans for the first time since February last year on Wednesday against Derby.

“It’s a great feeling. Now I’ve gone through the 16 weeks of injury it’s in the past and I am playing football.

“I was very excited to play at home.”