WIDE-man Jim O’Brien is determined to re-energise his Barnsley career during the forthcoming season.
After his capture from Motherwell last summer, almost half of O’Brien’s 34 appearances came from the bench last term, but the 23-year-old trickster is determined to build on an impressive pre-season so far having already been among the goals.
He said: “It was a bit stop-start for me last season, but I’ve still got another year on my contract so I really need to try and kick on now and put some good performances in.
“All the competition in the squad now keeps you on your toes, it’s healthy for me and it’s healthy for the team.
“If we can keep everyone fit we should be okay this season. We need a good start, that’s crucial. We got that last season, but then lost Adam [Hammill] at Christmas time.
“His goals were crucial, but we managed to keep that team ethic and that good work rate, and now this time around we’ve had a good start to pre-season and the manager is drilling it into us about the importance of clean sheets.
“If we can maintain that foundation for as long as possible the rest of the season will hopefully take care of itself.”
Niggling injuries aside, O’Brien believes the Reds squad is in fine fettle following their pre-season winning streak.
“It’s just about tidying a few little bits up now,” added the Scot. “We’ve got just less than two weeks to really tighten things up, then of course we’ll be ready.
“Last summer I was one of the new boys so I know just what it’s like. We just have to gel quite quickly. We’ve had nearly a month together now and in the games so far we’ve done well.
“There’s good competition in the squad.”
The Reds’ Young Player of the Year last season, Manchester City full-back Kieran Trippier, has joined Burnley on a season-long loan deal.
Last night, a young Barnsley second string lost 2-1 at Conference North outfit Stalybridge Celtic.
Midfielder Sam Patterson had equalised with a left foot shot but Celtic’s winner came from Craig Hobson. Matt Reece almost levelled at the death.