Having trained with our first team set-up for the past week, local lad Joe Ackroyd has relished the opportunity to pit himself against our senior pros and potentially catch the eye of Poya Asbaghi.
Mixing with the likes of fellow midfielders Josh Benson, Claudio Gomes and Callum Styles, the youngster has tried to absorb as much information as possible to stand him in good stead for the future.
“It’s been a tough week, but I’ve enjoyed it,” smiled Ackroyd. “It’s been a lot more physical and a lot faster paced, but I’m learning and I’ve enjoyed it.
“The lads have been great – I’ve just been like a sponge, really, just trying to take in everything that I can and keep learning because, obviously, there’s some good, experience players.
“It’s the same with the manager, as well; he’s very detailed with what he wants us to do, so I’ve been trying to take as much on board as I can.”
The postponement of our Boxing Day fixture against Stoke City has given our Head Coach more time to work with his squad on the training ground ahead of our trip to Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday evening.
It’s something that Ackroyd had to get to grips with, after previously spending time with Gerhard Struber and Valérien Ismaël in seasons gone by, but the 19-year-old has proven his adaptability and embraced the challenge.
“In terms of his style, it’s a little bit different,” he continued. “I’ve been learning different passing phrases, so when I first started we were doing a drill called a ‘five-two’, and at first I didn’t understand it.
“But, as you go on, you start to pick up these little things that he’s trying to implement into training and into his game.”
The step up from academy football to the first team scene can be quite daunting at most clubs, but here at Barnsley we have a holistic philosophy that allows our youngsters to make a seamless transition when they progress through the age groups.
Despite the physical demands at senior level, Ackroyd aims to work as hard as he ever does to improve his overall game and force his way into reckoning.
“It’s still intense in the under 18s and under 23s,” he insisted. “One of the biggest things is the physicality – it’s some big boys that you’re coming up against and you’ve got to find different ways around it.
“You’re obviously not going to be stronger than some of them, so you’ve got to work in a different way. But, in terms of the under 23s and the first team, nothing really changes for me; I just keep working and it’s another day to learn.”
Ackroyd has captained the Reds at U18s and U23s level and is Barnsley through and through, having been at Oakwell since the age of 10.
Representing your club is a special feeling, and the tireless midfielder is hoping for an opportunity to make the matchday squad this season.
“It means a lot; I’m a local lad – I’m from Darfield,” asserted Ackroyd. “To play for your home club – the club that you support – it’s a nice feeling.
“Ever since you’re a young lad at the club, that’s what you want to do when you’re older. I still know I’ve got a lot to do and a lot of improvements to make, but I’ve got my eyes on it now.”
You can watch the interview with Joe in full for FREE on iFollow Barnsley.