Barnsley: Hill’s delight as Craig ends exile

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KEITH Hill is delighted star striker Craig Davies has seen all his hard work rewarded by international recognition.

Davies featured as a second-half substitute for Wales in their 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Scotland at the weekend.

And the Reds’ leading scorer could have easily won himself a penalty having proved a nuisance against the Scots after his four-and-a-half-year exile from internationals.

Davies’ career has been blighted by various disciplinary problems, some more serious than others, both at club and international level.

But in the last 18 months, given the chance to impress by Hill in the Championship, Davies has stepped up to the plate.

“Craig’s been excellent for us, he deserves his opportunity,” Hill told The Star. “He’s really knuckled down since he joined the club and been working hard to shed the impression people might have had about him.

“You’ve got to give players the opportunity to fail as well as be successful, and Craig has really wanted it, having maybe not really fulfilled his potential at other clubs.

“One thing’s for sure, though, I’ll always give players the chance to prove themselves. It’s about taking those chances.”

Last night Davies was set to start on the substitutes’ bench as Wales took on Croatia, with the chance to play alongside the likes of Tottenham winger Gareth Bale and other Premier League stars like Liverpool’s Joe Allen and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey.

“It does make me very proud when your players get international recognition and it’s great for the club,” added Hill, who played a key role in Jacob Butterfield’s England Under-21 international call-up last season and John Stones’ breaking into the England Under-19 side this season. Paul Digby, aged 17, was on standby for the Under-19s as well, having shown glimpses of his potential this season.

Meanwhile, Hill played down speculation yesterday linking him with the vacant manager’s job at Burnley.

Hill has already been linked with potential moves to take over at Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers earlier this season.

But Hill said: “It’s just people putting two and two together and getting whatever answer they want.

“All the club’s I’ve been linked with are northern-based, but football’s a silly world.One minute I’m supposedly being lined up for one job and the next I could get sacked after a few bad results.”

The Reds have offered striker John Rooney - younger brother of Manchester United ace Wayne - a permanent contract at Oakwell.