Young defender John Stones caught up with Barnsley Player midway through his second pre-season in Marbella with the first team.
“Well me and Rosey came last year,” said Stones. “We know a bit about the place. It’s a different experience, to be fair. We came into it last year unaware what we were in for. Now we’re more experienced with the professionals, we know them more and it’s a lot better for us and the team. We’re enjoying it more.
“For me it’s always been a privilege to play with them and play around them. To be with them and training with them every day it’s been brilliant.
“It’s tough,” he continued. “The sun’s a big factor. We weigh ourselves before and after training and measure the amount of water we lose.”
The 18-year-old is one of nine Academy scholars to have penned a professional deal at Oakwell and is determined to prove himself with his hometown club.
“We said before pre-season we’ve got to kick-on, so far we’ve done that,” he added. “We’ve got to keep going. The gaffer’s been really good with us and supported us. All the staff have. They’ve given us the chance and it’s been brilliant.
“Bobby Hassell is a big role model for me. There’s a lot of advice and key tips I’ve taken on board. It’s always a big help for me. It’s sometimes hard to take on, knowing you’re not as experienced as them, but it gets a lot easier when your confidence builds.
“What Bobby’s done is brilliant so it would be great to achieve something like that.
“We’ve (youngsters) all got our dreams of playing at the highest level possible. We’ve all got that determination as young players and we always have as a team.
“Me and Rosey used to come and watch, so we know how the fans are and are always supporting us. To be on that pitch, as a kid I used to think ‘can I be on there?’ and once you’re on there it’s a different world. To think that now and look back, it’s just unreal.”
Stones tasted some first-team action last season and is grateful to Manager Keith Hill for the opportunity.
“He’s been an inspiration for me,” said Stones of the Barnsley boss. “He’s put a lot of drive in me –wanting to be a winner. He’s put this mentality through all the players. Hard work is key to be successful. For the young players it’s really good and it makes us want to win even more.
“All I can do is prove myself on the pitch. That’s what every player is trying to do.”