BARNSLEY under 18s are hoping to continue their history-making season in their end-of-season play-offs, with several of the team tipped for bright futures at the club.
The young Reds are due to visit Charlton Athletic tomorrow in the semi-final of the play-offs for the category two professional development league.
It is the first time a Barnsley side has ever reached those play-offs.
They finished second in their division with 43 points from 23 games so play the Addicks who won the southern group.
The winners will play the winners of the other semi-final between Sheffield United and Colchester United a week later.
The play-offs are an individual end-of-season tournament, rather than for promotion.
Coach Tom Harban said: “There’s a buzz about the place this week. The lads are training with a really good intensity. It’s an exciting challenge we cherish.
“We’re really pleased with the season and getting in the top two which was the objective from the beginning.
“It is development football but winning breeds confidence and lets them express themselves more.
“Charlton are a very good attack-minded team. They are the top goal-scorers.
“It will be tough but we beat them earlier this season.
“We will go down there to win.
“The goal is to win the semi-final and final.”
Captain Harrison Nejman, an 18-year-old midfielder from Halifax, has been at Oakwell for four years after leaving Huddersfield when they closed their academy.
He spent some of this season on loan to seventh-tier Basford United.
He said: “It’s been amazing.
“We had expectations at the start but I don’t think we really thought we would achieve them, especially after losing the first two games. But we have got stronger and stronger.
“It’s been a very good season already but hopefully there is more to come.
“We’re really excited for the Charlton game and we’re not nervous.
“We’re just going to play how we normally play and hopefully win like we did last time we went down there.
“It’s been good for me to play for this team and have three games with Basford, and it will help me get closer to the first team which is where we all want to be.”
Keegan Hartley, a midfielder from Huddersfield who will turn 18 next month, has been at the club for seven years.
He said: “We play a high-intensity style.
“The press is vital and that’s what we work on a lot, getting in the other team’s faces.
“There is a bit of pressure on us in the play-offs but we’re going down there to win.
“No one at the club has done it before so hopefully we can make the most of it.”
Harban believes several of his team have the potential to break into the Reds’ first 11.
“You don’t have good teams without good players.
“There are players we think really highly of as a club.
“But it’s down to how much work they want to put into their careers.
“Over the next few months and years, we hope we will see them in the first team.”
Fabio Jalo is the under 18s’ top-scorer this season despite being just 16.
Harban said: “He’s very good, creative, off the cuff, has no cares in the world when the ball is at his feet. But his work ethic is excellent. He’s been exceptional this season.”
Barnsley lost their final league match of the season 2-1 to Millwall on Saturday on the first team pitch at Oakwell.
The visitors were 2-0 up at half-time then defender Charlie Hickingbottom pulled one back.