LUKE Thomas spent much of his birthday weekend watching a video of Barnsley fans cheering him back onto the pitch after injury and now hopes to make more memories against his old club Derby County.
The midfielder came off the bench late on in a 4-0 win at his other former club Cheltenham Town on Saturday, the day before his 24th birthday.
He received a loud roar from the away end on his return after more than four months out with a broken leg.
Thomas told the Chronicle: “I couldn’t ask for a better reaction.
“My mum recorded it and I couldn’t stop watching it. I think I watched it about 50 times.
“It was really heart-warming and nice. To have my friends and family there to witness it was brilliant.
“When I was injured, I got a lot of support from the fans on social media. I just want to repay them on the pitch now.”
He added: “Being back was the best feeling in the world.
“It was an early birthday present.
“We went out for dinner to celebrate.”
Thomas spent three and a half years with Derby – after signing from Cheltenham aged 16 – but made just two substitute appearances before moving to Oakwell in 2019.
He said: “I had a few good years at Derby. I made my professional debut there. I really enjoyed it there.
“Derby had some really good players then and were spending really big money.
“There was no chance of me getting an opportunity.
“I needed to move to find first team football.
“It’s a massive game. I think both teams will be in the play-offs if not better at the end of the season.”
Next week, Barnsley play a third game in a row against one of Thomas’ former clubs as they visit Bristol Rovers where he spent last season on loan.
“I noticed that when I was coming back.
“It’s really good and will probably never happen again.
“I am fully focused on Derby but I am really looking forward to going back down to Bristol Rovers. I will have a lot of friends and family there.”
Thomas, who is out of contract in the summer, knows it won’t be easy to break into a side that has won five of the last six matches.
“The lads are flying.
“It’s going to be tough to get into the team but you can’t complain if they are getting the results and playing the way they are.”
Thomas thrived as a wide forward in a 3-4-3 before his injury but Barnsley now play 3-5-2. He said: “It depends on the game, how I am used. We could be losing and I would go into the number ten.
“I can play number eight (central midfield), I played there a few times in pre-season.”