Having suffered a broken leg back in September, Jasper Moon is continuing his return to full fitness and came through the first half unscathed as our U23s drew 1-1 with a strong Leeds United side in their last Professional Development League outing.
The young centre back was part of the first team squad that travelled to France and Germany in the summer, and is highly thought of within the Reds’ academy set-up for his calmness in possession and ability to play out of defence.
He put in a composed performance against the Whites, but thanked his teammates for making his return to competitive action a relatively straightforward assignment.
“I felt like it was a good 45,” began Moon. “I didn’t really have to do much because they played it in their half quite a lot and we played well and were able to box them in. On the ball, I thought I was alright.
“It didn’t really feel like I was gone for that long. The five months went really quick and to be back playing, it felt like I was never away.”
Like most clubs, Barnsley have a philosophy and ethos that runs right through the club – a style of playing football in order for younger players to make a seamless transition through the age groups if required.
However, in spite of that, Moon also praised how the Reds teach academy prospects the basics of football in addition to completely engraining the master tactic.
“I was at Leicester City from the age of eight until I was 16,” continued the 18-year-old. “Coaching was different, but I’d say the coaching here teaches you more of the real game. At Leicester, they teach you the way the first team play, but it’s not realistic to everyone.
“As soon as I came here, I learnt the game of football – the basics and fundamentals, no matter what division you’re in. We were only taught their style of play and that only – before I came here, I never knew what a channel ball was, so it’s very different.”
Since returning to training, Moon has been largely involved with the senior side under the watchful eye of Head Coach Gerhard Struber.
It is an indication of the regard that the youngster is held in by our coaching staff and he is relishing working under the Austrian, who has a pedigree for developing academy talent.
“It was a boost for my confidence, coming back and being with the first team because I realised that they do care about me; it made me enjoy my football,” insisted Moon.
“I’m finding it good. In the first few sessions, I was a little bit rusty but now I’ve been training for a month I’m feeling fit and think I’m doing really well.
“Gerhard is a bit more laid back. Max [Senft] takes a lot of the sessions and he likes to observe; he adds in vital points of information.”
Moon has experienced a handful of first team matchday during his time at Oakwell – all of which have come in cup competitions.
The youngster has been on the bench on four occasions – three times last season in the Checkatrade Trophy and once this term, against Carlisle United in the Carabao Cup.
He noticed a difference in mindset from senior to academy games, and how much more the concentration levels crank up a notch.
“It’s similar but different; people like to get into their zones,” asserted Moon. “There’s a lot of people doing different things to prep for the game, whereas in the under 23s everyone is just involved with each other. The first team is much more focussed really.”
Like a lot of our academy players, Moon was nurtured by Adam Murray in his spell as U18s coach when he arrived at the club in 2018.
He credits him for his development as a footballer and feels there may have been an opportunity to make a first team appearance this campaign had he not been injured – something he has not yet given up hope of.
“It’s good to have him there because if I’m confused about something I can go and chat to him and I know he’ll tell me the right advice and what to do,” said the centre back. “He was my under 18s coach, as well, so I know what he’s like as a coach and what I can and can’t say to him.
“I think making my debut could have been a possibility, but I suppose everything happens for a reason. I think it’s very possible that I could play, that’s what my aims are before the end of the season; to make my debut. But the main thing for the lads is that we stay up.”