MAEL de Gevigney admits recovering from his nightmare first Barnsley start was ‘a huge challenge’ but is now happy with the way he is performing.

The French centre-back, 24, signed in the summer from Nimes on a three-year contract. His full league debut in August, against Oxford United, lasted just 37 minutes as he was substituted having given away an early penalty and been lucky not to be shown a second yellow card.

He was then left out for the next five league games, playing instead in the EFL Trophy, but has returned to the starting line-up for the last 12 league games and generally impressed.

De Gevigney told the Chronicle: “It was not the start I wanted. It was tough but sometimes it happens like this in football. You can’t always be good.

“It was a quick change. I had just got my visa and wasn’t really prepared.

“It was a huge challenge for me after that but I am self-confident. I know I am a good player who can help the team.

“It was one of the first times in my young career that I was on the bench for many games in a row.

“But I worked hard in training and learned a lot about myself.

“I feel good now.”

How is he finding League One after playing in France all his career?

“It’s different football. That’s why I needed a little bit of time to adapt myself. There is more intensity and long balls and more strong players. In France, we take a little bit more time to build the game. Now I am settling in and I am used to playing in League One.

“The gaffer helped me a lot at the beginning. I am doing a little bit more gym. It’s more about understanding the football here.

“I always watched English football and wanted to play in it. I wasn’t sure when I would go to England. It’s an honour for me to be here. I want to do the best for the club.

“I had heard a little bit of Barnsley – going to the Championship then League One then the Championship.

“It’s a famous team and I am happy to play for this team.”

French football, like many European countries, has a winter break over Christmas and New Year.

But instead de Gevigney is with Barnsley who play four games in nine days including Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. De Gevigney said: “It’s nice for my family to go to England to see these games and a good atmosphere.

“It is different because in my previous years I had a winter break. Now I am playing football but I am happy with it. We need to earn points in these games.”

De Gevigney is adapting to life in Yorkshire off the pitch.

“Happily I am with my girlfriend who helps me a lot. It is a big move from the south of France to the north of England.

“Barnsley is maybe not the best town in England but I like it and I like the club and I like Oakwell.”

Mael is enjoying playing in a back three with Jordan Williams and Jamie McCart.

“It’s a really good partnership.

“We learn about each other more and more in every game.

“They are good players who have great experience and they can help me.”

He is relishing tonight’s trip to second-placed Peterborough.

“It’s a really important game against a really good team. They have one of the best attacks and playing styles. It will be a good challenge for us to see if we are ready to play for promotion.

“Our goal is to get promoted.

“We are doing great in the last few games and, if we keep playing like this, we will be in a good position.”