JOSH Earl enjoyed playing in a new-look Barnsley back three this week as his excellent start to life at Oakwell continued.

The 25-year-old joined the Reds from Fleetwood Town in January and has impressed in five appearances so far – helping them to three wins and two draws. He has been playing on the left of a back three with, most recently, American Donovan Pines in the middle and Frenchman Mael de Gevigney on the right.

Earl told the Chronicle: “It’s been brilliant. Both those guys are a pleasure to play with. Mael speaks fantastic English which is good because I can’t speak very good French. Donovan came in in a big game and took his chance with both hands. He won all his headers. You can see he gets the fans going and singing songs. It’s nice to play alongside such a big presence which takes a lot of pressure off the other two centre halves.”

Both Earl and Pines were brought in during the January transfer window, with the USA international arriving three weeks earlier but making his debut later due to a lack of gametime.

“Donovan is a good character who has settled in really well. I have too. The lads have been absolutely brilliant with both of us and made it very easy.”

Earl won the Northern Premier League Division One North with Lancaster City on loan from first club Preston North End in 2017. But he has never won promotion as a professional.

“I have never been involved in play-offs. I have come close once or twice but narrowly missed out. This is the first real chance for me to get a promotion on my CV.

“All the lads have the same goal which is to get promoted. There’s absolutely no doubt we’re pushing for the automatic spots. All we can do is keep winning. It’s really, really close. We’ve got a lot of games left and there will be ups and downs from all the teams.”

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Earl returned to his former club Fleetwood last week for a 2-1 win, less than three weeks after leaving.

“It was good. It was nice to see a few faces. I never fell out with anyone. I left on good terms. It wasn’t an awkward one to go back to. It was just enjoyable. I was glad we got the three points.”

Barnsley head coach Neill Collins was a player for Preston in 2009 and 2010 when Earl was in their academy.

Earl said: “He’s been absolutely fantastic. He talks to me a lot, lets me know when I do good things and when I do bad things which is what you need. He’s been a pleasure to work under and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Barnsley now visit Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday. Earl said: “They are a tough side to play against. It’s never a nice place to go. These are games we need to go to and win if we want to get promoted.”