Barnsley: Marley Watkins targets a top six finish for the Reds

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Barnsley forward Marley Watkins would be gutted if the Reds failed to make the top-six in the Championship this season.

The club’s push for consecutive play-offs was dealt a blow when they lost to Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend.

Paul Heckingbottom’s charges now sit nine points adrift - but Watkins believes the Reds should be aiming to push their way into contention.

“I’d be disappointed not to make the playoffs, but that’s my opinion,” admitted Watkins, who has netted six times so far this season.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime so we should be aiming for it.

“I don’t think there’s anything to fear in this league. I think we’re better than we think we are.

“If you look at the Villa game for example, the first 20 minutes we gave them too much respect.

“But once we got into the game and thought ‘hang on, we’re better than these’ it was a great display and I feel like we should be doing that in every game.”

Watkins’ head was turned by Premier League interest in the January transfer window, and the 26-year-old openly harbours dreams of one day playing in the top tier.

Despite having his transfer request denied by the club, Watkins is dedicated to the cause and has been one of the Reds’ standout players over the last month or so.

And he would love to sneak into the top six and try to reach the Premier League with the Reds.

“The dream is to be in the Premier League but with Barnsley,” revealed Watkins.

“My main focus is taking it game by game and trying to get us into the layoffs.

“When you hear that Premier League teams are interested your head gets turned.

“Every footballer wants to play at the highest level.

“But it was nothing to do with not wanting to be here, not at all it was my head getting turned, the bids were rejected, it doesn’t matter, I’m happy to be here.

“I won’t lie, it doesn’t come around often, that opportunity to play in the Premier League and I did try to make it happen.

“But like I say, it didn’t and so I’m happy to be here, I’m buzzing, it was never that I didn’t want to be at Barnsley, I love it here.”