A YEAR on since the bout of Covid-19 and resulting injury which ruined his first season at Barnsley, Josh Benson is delighted to be scoring regularly in a side competing at the top end of a table.

The 22-year-old midfielder had made a promising start to his Reds career after signing last year but had Covid in September and, after returning for a 1-0 loss at Blackpool, pulled out in the warm-up for the following game against Nottingham Forest with injury. The club admitted they rushed him back too soon after Covid and his form never recovered as the Reds were relegated.

This season he has scored four goals in all competitions and been one of the fifth-placed Reds’ star players.

Benson told the Chronicle: “I try to look after my body better now. I couldn’t help getting Covid. But I was confident before that then it took me a while to get back. It’s only going to make me a better person going through tough times like that and coming out the other side.

“I am really enjoying my football now and it makes it even better after what happened last season.

“I have always believed in my ability and I still believe I can get better.”

Benson had not scored for Barnsley before netting in three in as many games across a week in mid-August. He then smashed in a long-distance strike to open the scoring against Charlton Athletic in Saturday’s 3-1 win.

“I would say it’s the best goal I’ve ever scored. It just comes down to practising and confidence. I didn’t really know how far out I was, I just saw the goals and thought ‘I am going to have a go’.

“Some of the lads couldn’t believe it which is disappointing because I do it a lot in training.”

Benson has plenty of competition in central midfield including Herbie Kane, who has just returned from injury, and new signing Adam Phillips.

“I know I have to keep working hard because there are players who can take my shirt. Adam came off the bench at the weekend and did really well. We will need a big squad this season if we are going to be up at the top end of the table.”

Benson is pleased to see strikers Devante Cole and James Norwood hit form. He said: “To get results you need your strikers scoring goals. They are in form, happy and and enjoying their football. They look confident. Devante has been good after having a tough time last season like myself. It just comes with a run of games. He’s always believed in his ability and it’s started to show.”

Barnsley now visit Fleetwood Town tomorrow and will be backed by around 1,200 fans.

“They have only lost one game this season so it won’t be an easy away game. We just have to work hard and believe in ourselves.

“The fans help a lot. It meant a lot how many came to Cambridge and how much noise they made. When we celebrate with them, it’s brilliant.”