AMERICAN centre-back Donovan Pines has clear targets for the upcoming season - and he says he’s well on the road to recovery following a thigh injury which kept him out for the final part of last season.

The 26-year-old defender signed from DC United in January on a contract until the end of next season, with the club having an option to add an extra year.

Pines made his debut for the Reds on February 17 after coming on as a substitute away at Fleetwood in a 2-1 win.

He then played 90 minutes in a home win against Derby County, before scoring in consecutive games against Wycombe Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers.

However, he was ruled out for the season with a thigh problem which required surgery.

Pines admits the injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.

He told the Chronicle: “These things happen. It was my first big injury.

“But it’s how you come back from it.

“I’m excited to showcase what I can do from this injury and keep going on.

“All things happen for a reason and I think it was a blessing in disguise.

“I just had to get my foundations right.

“For me, taking it all in and going into a new environment - I felt really excited for a new opportunity.

“I’ve always wanted to play here.”

The Reds were well in with a chance of automatic promotion before Pines’ injury, but the club’s form fell off and they ended up finishing in sixth before losing to Bolton in the play-off semi-finals over two legs.

“It was difficult,” he added.

“They (the players) were so nice and I wanted to give back to those who had fought hard to get to that spot.

“Only playing four games, scoring and getting a lot of points helped them get into the play-offs.

“But they started without me and so I wanted to give back what they showed me. They did a great job and a lot of them are going to have successful careers on from Barnsley.

“It was tough to watch, I know I was missed but things happen.

“We go again and hopefully get promotion this year.”

Pines is hoping to be back fit for Barnsley’s first League One game of the season against Mansfield on Friday, August 9 - and he’s set himself some clear targets for the upcoming campaign.

“I’m back here for pre-season and I’m getting stronger,” he said.

“I’m getting fitter and controlling what I can control.

“I’m being smart with what I do and everything is feeling really good.

“Everything is going in the right direction.

“I’m doing the right things and I’m really excited to start the season on a good note.

“I’m almost back to full fitness and back on the field.

“I want to score six goals and get 20 clean sheets.

“Maybe a couple of assists as well.

“I want to play as many games as I can and be smart with how I play because I know there’s a lot of games in this league.

“I would be very happy to reach those milestones.”

But the Mansfield opener isn’t the game he’s most looking forward to, it’s new boys Wrexham who are owned by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

“It’s cool that they’re now in our league,” he said.

“They’ve got American owners and there’s a lot of hype around that team.

“Hopefully we’ll see some familiar faces that you watch on TV.

“It’s going to be an exciting time.

“There’s a lot of good teams.

“It’s an exciting new season and we’ll do our best.”

Does he think he can keep Paul Mullin from scoring?

“I think we can,” he added.

“We’ve just got to be smart and get the job done.”