After being named in the travelling squad for our Sky Bet Championship fixture at Reading last month, Brad Binns is eager to enjoy that experience again as he continues his football development.
The young midfielder has made waves at academy level this term with a number of impressive performances that have caught the eye of our senior coaching staff, and he was rewarded with a trip to the Madejski Stadium for his troubles.
“I was just buzzing straight away when I got the phone call,” reminisced Binns, who was at home in his bedroom at the time. “I got straight off the phone, rang my mum and dad because they were at work, and I was just buzzing all night then.
“It was a really good day – something I won’t forget, ever. For them to let me go out on the pitch as well in front of the fans was a good experience and something that I really enjoyed.”
On one of his last outings prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, Binns scored twice as our young Reds came from two-goals down against Birmingham City to win 3-2 at the Oakwell Training Ground.
The 18-year-old took his tally to four for the 2019/20 Professional Development League campaign, having previously netted against Bolton Wanderers and Burnley earlier in the season.
“It was something that I needed to improve on, scoring goals, and I think, coming into the New Year, I’ve really done that and I’m performing better now as well,” continued Binns. “I’ve been playing as a striker, rather than a midfielder, and it’s got me further up the pitch and got me more involved.
“It’s not my preferred position, but I kind of have a free role more than a striker. Tom [Harban] lets me roam a bit and it gives me more freedom and licence to get into goal scoring positions.”
His second against the Blues came deep into stoppage time as our U18s completed a remarkable turnaround to record a fourth successive victory, while also exacting a bit of revenge for the heartbreaking FA Youth Cup exit in January.
The midfielder showed excellent movement to beat the offside trap before heading home Joe Ackroyd’s pinpoint cross from close range, sparking wild celebrations from players and staff.
“I think I’m quite an intelligent player on the pitch,” admitted Binns. “In the last minute, everyone is trying to get in the box to score a winner, but it was great play from Ackers to set it up and I just read where he was going to put it and headed it in.
“This season, I don’t think we’ve had a game where we’ve won from being behind. It showed that we’ve got the resilience and hard work to do it; we were the better team all game but didn’t take our chances until the final 20 minutes, where we pretty much scored with every attack.”
Binns has been a regular addition to the first team training set-up this season, with Head Coach Gerhard Struber allowing him to showcase his abilities amongst the Reds’ senior players.
They are always happy to pass on tips to the younger players and offer encouragement, which is an indication of the togetherness – not just within each team – but at the entire club.
“You get told on the day that you’re training with them; it’s more of a surprise,” said Binns. “I think it’s better that way so you’re not at home overthinking it – you get thrown in at the deep end a bit, but it puts you in good stead for when you’re older and in a first team environment.
“I like it; it’s good to be mixed in with the first team to get used to how they play. There’s a big philosophy through the club where they want academy teams to play the way the first team do, but it’s a slightly different kettle of fish when you go with them. There’s more intensity; you’ve got to be sharper and quicker in everything you do.
“They can give you advice and if you watch them play, they do stuff that you don’t really see at youth level, so it’s good to watch them and also play with them. It’s really intense; you can tell the difference from our training to theirs and we train quite intense as well. I think it’s just the way the ball moves as well – everything is much quicker and your thought process has to be much quicker, which is another good thing about going up.”
If you’re good enough, you’re old enough is perhaps the main ethos at Barnsley, who are always willing to give young talent an opportunity to impress.
Binns believes it is encouraging for himself and his peers that there is a pathway available to everyone in the Reds’ academy, knowing that chances are available.
“It gives you a lot of confidence; you don’t come into training thinking you’re not going to have a chance – you never know what’s going to happen here,” insisted the midfield maestro. “If something does happen to someone else, you’ll be put straight in.”