JAMES Norwood was brought in last summer to add experience but believes the ‘naivety’ in Barnsley’s young squad is helping him and the club during their play-off push.
The 32-year-old striker won play-offs in successive seasons with Tranmere Rovers, netting at Wembley in the 2018 National League final then returning there to win the League Two play-offs after scoring in the semi-finals against his former club Forest Green. He had also lost in two previous play-off campaigns.
He told the Chronicle: “I know how it feels to lose in the play-offs. I have hidden it from the squad. It’s not a good thing at all and it ruins your summer.
“But the naivety within the squad is our blessing.
“You don’t want lads to panic and become nervous knowing that the feeling if you don’t succeed is one of the worst feelings you will have in your football career. The other side is the best feeling.”
He added: “I would like to win another play-off final and make it a little trilogy and go to the promised land of the Championship.
“I have a couple of goals at Wembley. They are moments you never forget, but it means so much more if you win.
“I have lost the semis, lost the final and won two finals. So I have experienced it all.
“The beauty of it is I don’t think the lads have many play-off campaigns between them.
“They are naive to the severity of the game which can be a very good thing.
“They are in good spirits.”
Norwood signed last summer after being released by Ipswich who finished second this season and gained automatic promotion. He scored 12 goals in 42 league appearances, 29 of which were starts.
He was not in the starting 11 for the play-off first leg at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, coming on for the final eight minutes after Slobodan Tedic started.
“The depth of the squad is really strong.
“Tedic has come in and held the ball up and scored goals.
“(Max) Watters runs in behind and is aggressive, he can score goals as well.
“The competition is good and it’s up to how the gaffer wants to set up.
“I will try to help from the bench or the start.”
Barnsley have had some memorable home wins in 2023 and Norwood hopes tonight’s semi-final second leg against Bolton is another.
“We have had some electric nights – the wins over Plymouth, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday. If we can get anything close to the atmosphere of that one at home to Sheffield Wednesday, it will be special. There won’t be many moments that come close to that in the lads’ careers.”
Norwood signed a one-year deal last summer with an option for the Reds to keep him for another season if they chose to do so.
Asked if he hopes tonight’s match is not his last at Oakwell as a Barnsley player, Norwood told the Chronicle: “Yeah but it’s a difficult one to answer.
“Nothing is set in stone. It’s about winning on Friday then moving on to Wembley. Whatever happens, happens and football takes care of itself.”