DONOVAN Pines said conversations with Daryl Dike helped convince him to join Barnsley.

Centre-back Pines made his Reds debut off the bench in a 2-1 win at Fleetwood Town on Saturday, after signing in the January transfer window.

Before signing, he spoke to former US national team colleague Dike who had a successful loan at Oakwell in 2021 before joining West Brom where he has suffered a succession of injuries.

Pines told the Chronicle: “I called him a bunch of times. He gave me all the nitty gritty – all about the people, where to live, places to go. He was really helpful with my decision

“I am really sorry for his injury and hopefully he gets recovered really quickly.

“He helped me narrow down where I should go to.

“It’s a really exciting decision and could be a game-changer in my career.”

Pines said head coach Neill Collins was also a factor. The centre-back played against Collins’ Tampa Rowdies in the USL Championship on loan from DC United at Loudoun United in 2019.

“He remembered me from five years ago, somehow. It’s come full circle and I am playing for him. I took it to heart that he followed my career so I wanted to put pen to paper and sign for him.”

Pines, who had been a regular in MLS with DC United before leaving late last year, says a move to Barnsley has been on his radar for some time.

“It was in the works for a while.

“During my season last season Barnsley were interested and so was I but I wanted to finish my season with DC. Barnsley were still interested this season so I wanted to come here.

“It was always my dream to go to England, we have family out here to so maybe they can come to one of my games.”

Pines says League One is a different style of football to MLS.

“It’s very direct here – a lot of battles and very physical.

“The ball gets kicked behind a lot. Teams are infatuated with the long ball, it’s crazy.

“In the MLS it is a little bit more ‘play from the back’.

“But it’s an interesting transition and I am excited.”

Pines received a warm reception from the away end at Fleetwood.

They sang Estelle and Kanye West’s American Boy to him before cheering every header and chanting ‘USA’.

“I never had that (the cheers) since maybe college when we won the National Championship.

“It was cool and I was smiling inside.

“I had to stay focused when they were singing my name and saying ‘USA’.”

He added: “I was focused on warming up in the first half when they were singing American Boy.

“Barry Cotter said ‘do you like that?’ and I didn’t know what they were saying at first.

“It was surreal but awesome.”

Pines’ debut came five months after his last competitive game and more than a month after he signed.

“It’s been a good transition.

“My team-mates are amazing and the coaching staff is great.

“I want to make myself a better player and hopefully get promoted.

“I was ready when they told me to play. They wrapped me up really well for games and for the under 21s.”

Pines added: “I am trying to get used to the accent and slang. I have to ask people to repeat themselves, sometimes three or four times. I am getting used to the food too – beans on toast and Nutella on toast which is my favourite now.”