CARLTON Morris is set to return to the Barnsley team tomorrow after a ‘horrible’ three month injury lay-off and is thrilled to be back with ‘a group of lads who are desperate to turn things around’.
The striker, who turns 26 next month, made a huge impression after signing from Norwich City in January with seven goals in 25 Championship appearances, with just eight starts, as he helped the Reds reach the play-off semi-finals.
He then started the first two matches of this season but injured his knee early in the 1-0 win over Coventry City on August 14, so has been sidelined for more than three months.
Morris told the Chronicle: “I am ready to play. The timing worked out well with the international break.
“I got some good training in before it then had some time off and I’ve been training again all week. I am in a really good place and excited to play again.
“It’s really tough watching from the stands and thinking that, in another world, I could be on the pitch helping the lads. It’s horrible being injured but it does give you a new appreciation for the game. It has tested my resolve but you have to take it in your stride, for your mental well-being.
“You have to focus on the rehab as a new challenge. You haven’t got that competition on the pitch so you have to find it in getting yourself fit as quickly and safely as possible.”
Morris has had knee problems in the past, missing a season after a major injury sustained at Wembley in the 2018 League One play-off final for Shrewsbury.
This injury was to the other knee and to the PCL ligament rather than the ACL which tends to take longer to recover from.
He said: “It was just unlucky in a tackle. It does happen in this business.
“Sometimes an innocuous trip can do quite a bit of damage. Hopefully I can stay away from that in the future.”
Barnsley are second-bottom, four points adrift of safety. Markus Schopp was sacked three weeks ago and Poya Asbaghi is due to take over on Monday.
“It’s always an exciting time when a new gaffer comes in.
“It gives the whole dressing room and the environment a big boost.
“There are 25-plus lads who are desperate to impress and improve on where we’re at at the moment.
“There are a few curious Georges in the team who have done a lot of research on him but a few of us go the other way and think it’s better to get to know the new manager in person.
“We’re looking forward to meeting him and hopefully he can take us forward.
“I have worked under a lot of different bosses and it’s just a process of adapting, showing your best self and building up that relationship. In this group we all have the personalities to suit that.
“We are humble and down to Earth and always listen to instructions and implement them as best we can on the pitch.”
Before working with Asbaghi, the Reds are due to visit second-placed Fulham tomorrow under caretaker Jo Laumann.
“Our instructions are clear to focus on the game on Saturday under Jo.
“In the Championship anyone can beat anyone, last season we went to Brentford and Bournemouth and won. We know we can go there and get a result.”
During Morris’ absence, the Reds have collected just seven of 45 available points.
“Everyone is determined to turn this around as soon as possible.
“The squad is not all that different from last season when we had so much success. It’s a group of lads who are desperate to turn things around.
“We have faith in ourselves.
“We as a squad need to up our game a bit and give the fans something to cheer. We have also had injuries and suspensions at bad times. We were very fortunate with injuries last season but we haven’t been this season.
“Mads (Andersen) came back, which is a big boost, hopefully I can come back in and give the lads a boost on and off the pitch.”
Morris’ only experience of playing in front of fans at Oakwell so far was an impressive substitute appearance in front of a limited crowd in the play-offs against Swansea in May then 30 minutes before his injury against Coventry.
“It’s been one of the biggest things I have missed. I have seen the atmosphere from the stands. I am relishing playing in front of it and drinking it in.”
Barnsley are the second-lowest scorers in the Championship with 12 goals in 17 games.
Morris is hoping to change that, saying: “I love being on the pitch, taking responablity and trying to create and take chances.
“I think back to the first day of the season (a 1-1 draw at Cardiff City) when I had a couple of chances and made a couple. If that been with mid-season sharpness, I could have had a couple of goals. I just want to get back to that.”