Sheffield Wednesday: David Bates opens up on his Owls debut and the fight to play at Hillsborough
As he walked out of the away dressing room at the ASSEAL New York Stadium, David Bates was nursing a few battle scars following a bruising South Yorkshire derby.
The centre-half suffered a deep cut to his top lip and multiple bumps and bruises in his maiden Owls outing.
But Bates, drafted in on deadline-day on a season long-loan from German club Hamburg, stood up well to the physical challenge posed by Rotherham United’s lively front three.
“It was great to make my debut,” he told The Star. “I have not played in a while.
“My last professional game was in May so I felt a bit rusty.
“But it was good to get back out there and get 90 minutes under my belt.”
Interim boss Lee Bullen was pleased with Bates’ contribution in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup second round win over Rotherham United.
Bullen said: “He was brilliant. He got a cut lip and some bumps and scratches.
“It was a real test and I thought he stood up to everything they threw at him. He got some vital headers in from corners.
“I thought in the first 10 to 15 minutes he did his defensive duties in a more agricultural kind of style.
“He could have played a little bit more football rather than just clearing things.
“Maybe he was a little nervous on his first start for the club.
“But after that first 20 minutes, he grew into the game and made some great passes into the midfield and strikers.
“He stood up to the battle which was great. Their three strikers are big, powerful, strong quick players and I thought Batesy handled that side of the game brilliantly.
“As the game went on, he showed his other qualities in passing out from the back and starting off attacks and everything like that so I was very pleased for him.
“He has had to stay very, very patient but he did himself a lot of credit [against Rotherham].”
Bates made a winning start to his Owls career after a close range strike from Atdhe Nuhiu in the 96th minute of the Rotherham tie.
“It was a great feeling at the end to get the win,” said Bates, who was one of nine changes made by Bullen. “It was a tough game and the way Rotherham play is back to front at times.
“There were a lot of changes to our team and it is hard to gel straight away but I thought we deserved to win.”
The Scotland international has found game time hard to come by at S6, with captain Tom Lees and Julian Börner forming a strong partnership at the heart of their rearguard.
Asked if he has been frustrated that he has had to wait for his opportunity to demonstrate his qualities, Bates said: “I expected that to be the case with the boys doing well. You have to hold your hands up at times when you see the boys keeping clean sheets and doing well at the back.
“Week in, week out the boys have been doing well so I have had to bide my time.
“But I feel up to speed now and getting 90 minutes will help me.”
The 22-year-old began his career at hometown club Raith Rovers before having loan spells with East Stirling, Brechin and Rangers. He went on to join Rangers on a permanent deal in 2017. Bates featured 28 times for the Light Blues, scoring one goal before leaving at the end of his contract.
Hamburg snapped up Bates last year and he stood out as the club agonisingly missed out on promotion. Bates, regarded as a ball-playing defender, was a first-team regular, appearing 28 times in all competitions.
On pitting his wits in the Championship, Bates said: “I am expecting it to be a tough battle. You see different types of football in the Championship. Some play it on the floor and some play it direct. You have to adapt quickly.
“I am glad to be back [in English football] and I can’t wait to play more.”