Another young star who was part of our pre-season tour to France and Germany, Jordan Helliwell has developed into one of the most highly rated players within the Reds’ academy set-up.
The 18-year-old has been at Oakwell since the age of 10, progressing through the age groups and impressing the coaching staff at all levels with his unflappable approach to the game.
He has featured predominantly for our U23s during this season’s Professional Development League and, despite being hampered by injury at the beginning of the campaign, has worked his way back to fitness and is aiming to find a bit of rhythm.
“I was injured at the start but, recently, I feel as though I’ve got my fitness back,” said Helliwell. “I’m trying to get that consistency back in my game when I play with the under 23s now.”
On his last outing against Leeds United, the youngster had the unenviable task of marshalling Ezgjan Alioski at the Oakwell Training Ground.
The Macedonian winger has been the scourge of many Championship full-backs since arriving in Yorkshire from Lugano in 2017, but Helliwell more than matched a player with over 250 senior appearances to his name.
“It makes me think that if I can play well against that kind of player, I can do it every week in the under 23s and maybe push on to be able to do it in the first team,” continued the Reds’ youngster.
His job was made easier that afternoon by having Mads Andersen alongside him at the back, with the Danish defender able to show a calmness and offer advice to his more inexperienced teammates.
However, it’s a situation that Helliwell is relatively used to, having trained frequently with the first team set-up this season.
“It felt comfortable because he was always there to cover me and, on the ball, he was calm and relaxed,”insisted Barnsley’s Academy Player of the Year 2017/18. “I’ve trained with the first team, so I’m used to having that experience around me; they’re always talking, telling you what to do and just helping you out on the pitch.
“They are young, but you can see that they’ve had the experience out there and they know how to play.”
Comfortable and competent at playing either full-back or central midfield, Helliwell made his first team debut in our Checkatrade Trophy victory against Bradford City last season.
He was also part of the 19 that travelled to Fulham in February and, although he wasn’t amongst the substitutes, relished the experience of being at Craven Cottage.
“I wasn’t expecting it; I just came in from training on the Friday and Adam [Murray] said I was travelling, so it was a good experience to see what it would be like on an away day,” revealed Helliwell.
“Just to be there on the day was such an amazing experience – to be part of the first team and be in the dressing room after the game when they’d won was such a good environment to be in.
“The hotels are a bit nicer, but they’re pretty much the same; it’s just the players you’re stopping with, really. I stuck with Elliot [Simoes] and he’s been with the under 23s, so that was nice.”
Like most of our up and coming prodigies, Helliwell has a particularly close bond with Adam Murray, who was our U18s coach before taking on his role in the senior set-up.
The youngster reserves special praise for the former Derby County and Mansfield Town midfielder, who has aided his development during his time at Oakwell.
“It gives me confidence knowing that I’m on the radar,” admitted Helliwell. “Adam’s up there as well; he was my coach and he knows what I can do. I have a good relationship with him; he’s always there to talk and answer any questions I have.”