The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Ben Baker

ONE club seems not to want him and the other would like him but can’t af­ford him.

But, while an un­cer­tain sum­mer seems to be loom­ing for Matty James, the mid­fielder has learned over re­cent sea­sons not to worry too much about the fu­ture and to live for the here and now.

Hav­ing helped Le­ices­ter City to pro­mo­tion from the Cham­pi­onship in 2014, James fea­tured heav­ily in the club’s first sea­son back in the Premier League, only to rup­ture his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ments in May 2015.

The in­jury forced him to watch from the side­lines as Le­ices­ter shocked the world and won the Premier League the very next sea­son.

This term, he man­aged just a minute in Eng­land’s top flight, with a mi­nor cameo off the bench in a 4-2 win over Manch­ester City in De­cem­ber.


That led James to look else­where for reg­u­lar foot­ball and the fol­low­ing month he joined high-fly­ing Barns­ley on loan un­til the end of the sea­son, fill­ing the size­able boots left by Conor Houri­hane’s de­par­ture for As­ton Villa.

De­spite al­most a year and a half out of ac­tion, James slot­ted in well at Barns­ley, in­stantly be­com­ing a reg­u­lar fix­ture in the start­ing XI and scor­ing his first goal in al­most four years in a 2-1 loss at Derby County last month.

His per­for­mances in the red of Barns­ley have de­lighted fans. But, with an­other sea­son left on his Le­ices­ter con­tract, Tykes man­ager Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom ad­mits the money isn’t there to ex­tend James’ stay at Oak­well be­yond the end of the cur­rent cam­paign.

But, rather than worry about what the fu­ture holds, James’ in­jury woes at Le­ices­ter – not to men­tion his time com­ing through the academy at Manch­ester United – have taught him to sim­ply take things one game at a time. “I spoke to a few man­agers, in­clud­ing Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom,” said the 25-year-old. “I liked what he said and felt that Barns­ley was the per­fect club for me at the time.

“They were a young team do­ing well and over-achiev­ing.

“I felt I could come in and add some of my ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing in the Cham­pi­onship.

“The key thing for me was get­ting back play­ing foot­ball again and en­joy­ing it.

“I’ve done that and I’m keen to re­pay the club by giv­ing ev­ery part of me on and off the pitch.

“I had been train­ing for quite a while at Le­ices­ter. but ev­ery­one will tell you that train­ing and play­ing games are not the same.

“The Cham­pi­onship is a tough and fast league and it took me a lit­tle bit of time to get used to it again.

“It was men­tal rather than phys­i­cal. But, once I got the be­lief back in my game and my knee, I didn’t look back.

“My first Barns­ley game was in a lo­cal derby against Rotherham and I started right away. It went well and I’ve picked it up from there.

“I just want to give 110 per cent un­til the end of the sea­son and keep my head down.

“I have learned not to think too far ahead. I gave my­self tar­gets while I was out in­jured and some­times I didn’t meet them. That would get me down and up­set.

“So now I just think I have a game on Satur­day and that is the next tar­get. When the sum­mer ar­rives I will take it from there.”

While ply­ing his trade at Oak­well, Le­ices­ter have re­moved Clau­dio Ranieri and in­stalled Craig Shake­speare in the hot seat.

James could be ex­cused for think­ing this plays into his hands, with Shake­speare hav­ing been as­sis­tant at Le­ices­ter since 2011 and the mid­fielder join­ing the fol­low­ing year.

But, again, he is not get­ting ahead of him­self.

“It was frus­trat­ing I didn’t get a chance at Le­ices­ter but Barns­ley have given me a chance to go out and prove my­self,” he added.

“Hope­fully I have put my­self back on the map and that gives me some­thing to talk about in the sum­mer and as­sess it then. “Shaky has got the job now and he is some­one I know well hav­ing been there the past five years. “He was there when I first signed in 2012 and has been a big part of my de­vel­op­ment. “But, if I was at Le­ices­ter now, that doesn’t mean I would be get­ting games. “I think it was right for me to go out and learn again – and play games. “I just want to re­pay Barns­ley by fin­ish­ing the sea­son as strongly as pos­si­ble and mak­ing it a loan to re­mem­ber for my­self and the club.”

PIC­TURE: Aaron Lup­ton/ProS­ports

LOAN RANGER: Matty James is en­joy­ing play­ing and scor­ing for Barns­ley, main pic and in­set left. In­set right: Premier League mem­o­ries at Le­ices­ter

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