The Reds in the Community Shadow Scholarship players took part in the first day of pre-season on Monday ahead of the 2018/19 campaign in the Northern Football Youth League.
Mark Tinker’s squad first had a meet-and-greet session with the six-person strong coaching team, talking through the high standards expected throughout their time at Reds in the Community.
They then moved onto a circuit of fitness testing, checking the levels of all of the players ahead of the hard work beginning.
First up was a sit and reach test with new addition Sam Sutton, who also works at the Barnsley FC Academy, overseeing procedures.
Sports Therapist James Ratcliffe and Assistant Coach Joe Bedford then measured the players starting height and weight before Sports Scientist Alex Overton tested their standing long jump statistics.
Overton also led a 30-15 running test, an updated alternative to the bleep test, checking the overall fitness of the squad.
The players were then split into two teams for an internal 11 vs 11 friendly game, split across four quarters.
Both sides demonstrated some of the high-quality football required to compete in the NFYL in the upcoming season.
Aidan Hargreaves continued the form he showed for last year’s Education first team with four goals while Jimmy Pursell scored a screamer.
After ending the day with a de-brief on the match, Tinker expressed his delight with how the first day of pre-season was.
He said: “The first day went really well. There was a lot of information for the players to get on board with. We worked on philosophy and identity, standards and what we expect from a professional club. I was very impressed with the standard. The standard was where I think we need to be for the season and for the league.
“I think we’ve recruited right. The players we’ve got are of a level which, I would say, is elite. Obviously, they are here for education purposes but on top of that, playing in this league at this standard, they are right where I’d expect them to be.”
Although this was the first official day of pre-season, the Shadow Scholarship has already proved its potential for player progression with three goalkeepers having been drafted in to train with the Barnsley FC Academy.
Lewis French and Brad Greenfield have been training with Martin Devaney’s U23 squad while Joseph Mellor has been involved with the Barnsley U18’s.
Tinker added: “I’ve known two of the goalkeepers since they were U14. They were released at U16 but to be back now in close proximity, and going straight into training with the professional academy, shows that this programme is working. Before we’ve even kicked a ball or started pre-season, three of our players are training with the professional youth team and U23’s which, to me, says that it is already positive and doing what we set out to do from a playing perspective.”