Barnsley: Adam Hammill interview

As far as Barnsley's new summer signings go, Adam Hammill is laughing.

The Scouser knew Jim O'Brien from his days on loan at Dunfermline, while Liam Dickinson is also a former team-mate from his spell at Blackpool.

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The 22-year-old has even hit it off with Serbian new boy Goran Lovre and has been mightily impressed by the foreigner's English – joking that the only problem is it's better than his!

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Still, it's all good fun, and the Tykes' winger is highly optimistic about a fine 2010-11 at Oakwell.

Hammill and his Reds team-mates are some 10 days into pre-season training as a new-look squad boosted by five summer signings.

Dickinson, O'Brien and Lovre, plus Jay McEveley and Jason Shackell, are all settling into life at Barnsley and Hammill says all have taken to the club like ducks to water.

The Liverpudlian insists the Tykes have already established a strong team spirit and says the opening week and a half's training could not have been better.

"All the lads bring something different to last season's team," Hammill told Yorkshire Sport.

"They've all got their own qualities and, playing with them and being with them in training, it's been superb and it doesn't feel like they're new signings. It feels like they've been here for years.

"They've come in, they're all full of confidence, and they're just a nice set of lads and they get on with everyone else.

"You can't ask for any more.

"I'm enjoying it, there's a nice working environment, and especially Goran – his English is really good.

"I didn't know if he could speak English or not before he came – but he speaks better English than me! He's a really nice lad.

"I knew Jim from Dunfermline and I also played with Liam at Blackpool, so I knew what to expect from a few of the lads.

"There is a good bit of banter with them all.

"Jay McEveley's a good lad as well, he's going to be a big asset, and there's a very good feel about team spirit so far.

"Then there's Jason, who I think is going to skipper us for next season. He's added a lot of experience and he's a quality player

"All the lads bring their own little bit."

Hammill says Barnsley's squad reported back in excellent shape for pre-season training, with no signs of over indulgence during the summer break.

The former Liverpool youngster spent his holidays in Egypt but revealed even on his break it was still a case of work mixed with play.

"I went to Egypt for 10 days with the missus, and I really enjoyed that, but it wasn't just feet up, it was hard work as well," he said.

"We had a programme that we had to keep to, in doing a few runs a week, core strength exercises and that, so there was that as well.

"It was nice to have a break, but I got injured before the end of the season – basically I had a good few weeks out and I was just eager to get started again, getting running and starting back in training.

"I've enjoyed the first week back and all of us, as a team, just can't wait for the season to start now, especially the pre-season games. I think everyone has come back at a reasonable fitness level after the summer.

"This week has been really tough but it's been enjoyable as well, meeting new faces and new players, and the banter and that's been great.

"I've really enjoyed being back in."

Hammill is now back for what will be his second full season at Oakwell since his switch from Anfield where the wide man was highly regarded in the club's academy.

The 5 ft 10in star ultimately had to move to pastures new to further his career but still keeps a close eye on matters on Merseyside and is happy at the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager.

"I'm made up that they have actually come back to get a British-based manager in," he said.

"It might rub off perfectly on the whole club and you might see a lot more homegrown lads getting a chance and coming through.

"He has already gone on record saying he wants to get a lot more British-based players in and maybe that might be good, to get back to the old ways, players who are proud to play for Liverpool, players who want to wear the Liverpool shirt...players who have got real desire."

Hammill was never given that chance at Anfield but has no regrets about his move to South Yorkshire and says while Liverpool will forever be in his blood, Barnsley now come first.

"First and foremost my football is 110 per cent focused on Barnsley," said Hammill, whose first taste of pre-season friendly action is likely to come with the trip to York City a week on Tuesday.

"I'd love to improve my game here and also improve as a team so we can push and progress this year and go as far as we can.

"I was just glad to be at Liverpool and coming from Liverpool, and as a local a lad, I'm always going to support them and I'm always going to have friends there. It would be nice for them to do well, but my priority is Barnsley and that's not going to change."

Hammill approaches another season with the South Yorkshire Reds hoping to continue from last season's success when he was named the club's young player of the year.

The midfielder has already played 57 games for the Tykes, netting five times, but always impresses the Tykes faithful with his efforts on the pitch.

Now, though, Hammill is ready to up his game another level this term and sees no reason why Barnsley, as a team, cannot do the same.

"To be honest I'm looking to push on this season as a player," said Hammill.

"Last season I matured quite a bit under Mark Robins, he's a gaffer I really get on with, I like him as a person and I think he can take my game to the next level.

"I'm also looking to move down here with my girlfriend, our house hunt has started, so I will have a lot more time to spend on the training field and pick up different aspects of the game which I might not have yet.

"Also, hopefully, fatigue won't set in and I will be prepared 100 per cent.

"I'm just looking to get to the next level and to improve my consistency – I thought I was a bit inconsistent last season so I want to improve that and help the team more.

"There's a lot of talent in this team and I think if we all gel really quickly – which on the training pitch we are – I think we can push towards the top end of the table.

"Last season when we got within touching distance of the play-offs we sort of, I don't know, shied away a bit, I don't think we believed in ourselves.

"Hopefully we can kick on this season. We've got the right mix, there's a great atmosphere, and it's looking good this year."