Barnsley: Defender hopes for permanent place

Barnsley defender Marc Roberts in action against Doncaster Rovers
Barnsley defender Marc Roberts in action against Doncaster Rovers
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Solid centre-back Marc Roberts is eager to cement his place in Barnsley’s starting line-up after impressing in his last two outings.

The Reds have kept back-to-back clean sheets since Roberts returned to the first XI, with Tuesday night’s goalless draw away at Bury following on from the weekend’s derby-day victory over Doncaster.

The former Halifax man found himself on the bench for much of Burnley loanee Kevin Long’s spell at Oakwell, but now the Irishman has returned to his parent club, Roberts is determined to make the most of his opportunity.

“I’ve still got to improve as a player but I think I’ve come in and done well,” said the 25-year-old.

“I’ve not played for a while so the first game back was always going to be a tough one. It was heavy on the legs and to have two games in quick succession was hard.

“I’m just pleased to get the clean sheets - that’s what we’re there for. It’s always difficult [being out of the first team] but we’ve had good players and that happens to everybody throughout the season.

“That’s why we’ve got a squad of players. You’ve just got to keep working hard in training and when your chance comes you’ve got to take it.”

The foundation for the Reds’ remarkable run of eight wins in their last 10 league matches has been built upon a solid back four, which has kept six clean sheets during that period.

But with Long going back to Burnley and Aidy White sustaining an ankle ligament injury against Rovers, there was a danger that the balance would be upset.

The battling display against Bury proved otherwise, particularly in the last 10 minutes after Adam Hammill’s dismissal.

Barnsley’s caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom was pleased with his side’s defensive performance, and praised 22-year-old George Williams who slotted in at left-back in place of the injured White.

“Things went against us in terms of being able to display the quality that we’ve shown in the last few weeks,” he said.