LUCA Connell hopes he can stay fit and healthy for the remainder of Barnsley’s promotion chase after a stop-start campaign so far.

The 22-year-old midfielder was one of the Reds’ star players last season but missed the first three months of this campaign with post-viral fatigue. He has made 13 appearances so far, having also missed two games last month with a small injury then a stomach bug.

Connell told the Chronicle: “It’s frustrating when you’re trying to get going and put a run together for yourself.

“After I was off for four months, you have to expect little things to pop up.

“Vikki (Stevens, the Barnsley physio) was saying the other day it’s good I haven’t picked up more than I have.

“I have to look past that and hopefully stay well until the end of the season.

“I have been catching up but I think have done OK and the team has been playing well.

“There is always more to come, personally and as a team.

“If we are aiming for the play-off positions and automatic too, you have to be at your best.”

Connell returned after illness for 20 minutes off the bench in the 2-1 home loss to Exeter City on Saturday.

“The lads who came on before made an impact and got us on the front foot.

“I came on and pushed us forward a bit. It was good, just unfortunate we couldn’t get the draw or the three points.”

Connell spent a decade in the academy of tomorrow’s hosts Bolton then made 12 first team appearances before moving to Celtic.

He was booed by Trotters fans last season after alleged time-wasting in the 0-0 draw in the league in Bolton.

“I have nothing but respect for Bolton fans and how they supported me five years ago. I will give them a good reception, I don’t know what I will get back.

“I look forward to those games.

“There is a little bit more pressure on yourself. I enjoy it.

“It’s a big occasion. When we went there last year at the end of the season, the atmosphere was unbelievable.”

Bolton are second in the table.

Barnsley lost their first five games against the current top eight but have more recently beaten Stevenage and Oxford as well as a draw at Peterborough.

“I don’t think there is a massive difference between us and the top of the table.

“There are a couple of things that have been going on.

“We couldn’t come back after conceding first but we’re putting a lot of things behind us.”

He added: “It is tight at the top.

“There are more teams up there than last year. It’s good that these games can be make or break for the season.”

The Reds are currently fifth after their 11-game unbeaten run ended against Exeter.

Connell said: “With the amount of games left, any result can go any way. You have to keep positive, make sure your results are right and hopefully someone slips up.”