Barnsley: Bobby Hassell interview

Bobby Hassell is well used to the demands of indoor training with such a facility regularly used during eight years at Mansfield Town.

Only trouble is that was when he was 20-something, the defender now having to take it easy on a hard surface after reaching his 30s!

Hassell is not alone in having found the last fortnight a complete nuisance, with the country buried under several inches of snow.

Outdoor training at Barnsley has indeed been a snow-go, with the Tykes training indoors this week under Mark Robins. And for Hassell, that now sounds a note of caution some 14 years into his professional career.

The Derby-born ace is extremely familiar with indoor training from his spell with first club Mansfield but that was at a time when his joints were somewhat more supple.

And while Hassell now sees Barnsley's youngsters going full throttle day in, day out on the indoor surface, for the 30-year-old stalwart, one day is just about enough!

Hassell said: "It's obviously difficult at the minute, especially in the Yorkshire area, but everyone's in the same boat.

"We've been training indoors all week which isn't ideal, especially for the senior players with their backs and joints and things.

"Obviously, the older you get, you've just to be a bit more careful with the indoor facility.

"It's not like the 20-year-old lads who can go in there all day, it doesn't really affect them. But the senior players have to do it around going in training one day, running around, and then being in the gym the next day.

"Basically, the surface indoors is hard and it can be quite bad for your back and your knees.

"You are okay for a day in there but gone are the days where you would be okay to go in there every day.

"I did a lot of it when I was at Mansfield. We trained on that kind of surface virtually every day for about five or six years but I do feel it when I go in there now.

"My back is killing me because the surface is so hard compared to playing on grass!"

Never mind playable, the grass has not even been visible in Yorkshire this week – the cold snap threatening to check the momentum of Barnsley's excellent recent progress.

With the luxury of a game in hand, the Reds sat just six points off the play-offs heading into yesterday's scheduled South Yorkshire derby with Sheffield United, but experienced Hassell never doubted that the Tykes would rise up the table.

Indeed, now in his seventh season at Barnsley, the defender feels it has been a case of year on year progress at the club, beginning when Andy Ritchie arrived at Oakwell with the Tykes staring down a barrel in League One.

"I think we've improved every year since I've been here," reasoned Hassell. "We were bottom of League One when I first came and obviously Andy Ritchie got us promoted the year after.

"Simon Davey kind of did a steadying job for two or three years and now obviously the new manager has come in – Mark Robins – and I think he's taken us on again.

"I think all three managers within the last five years have taken the club on and hopefully Mark Robins will now take us that one further step which this year would be mid-table.

"Then if we can't manage to get in the play-offs this year, then next year that will be the aim.

"But the aim this year was to get at least a mid-table spot and not be struggling near the bottom.

"Football is a funny game as everyone knows and three or four weeks ago, after the Leicester defeat, everyone said we were in a relegation scrap, we've not improved this year and things like that.

"Within what, two or three weeks, we have got three wins on the trot and we're sitting in there a few points off the play-offs.

"That's how crazy it is but we're not getting carried away. We could lose three on the bounce and be straight back down where we've come from. We've just got to take each game as it comes and we just want to keep on with the form we've got going at the minute."

And all this with Hassell, one of Barnsley's most experienced players, currently operating on the wrong side of the field.

He has had to operate at left-back in recent weeks due to injuries suffered first by Jay McEveley and then Luke Potter, but right-footed Hassell has been pleased with his performances in his makeshift position.

Indeed, the former Mansfield ace has been satisfied with his displays as a whole this term, admitting he'll never be a match-winner like Adam Hammill but instead a solid and reliable proposition at the back.

"I admit I was a bit worried when the gaffer first said I was to play at left-back because I played a couple of games there five or six years ago and didn't do very well," said Hassell.

"But obviously I am a lot more experienced now and I know how to play in the position a lot better.

"Obviously, I am right-footed so I have to change things when I play there, with my passing anyway. But in terms of positioning, I picked it up within probably 20 minutes of playing there.

"I don't know how long I'm going to have to play there now that Mat

Hill is coming back and hopefully he'll be fit soon because the balance would be better with a left-footer in the team."

Assessing his season as a whole, he added: "I think most people would say you know what you get with me.

"I'm quite happy with the level of performance I put in week in, week out and I'm never going to give you nine or 10 out of 10 which Adam Hammill will do!

"I'm just a consistent seven or eight out of 10 every week and I'm having to play in a different position at the minute at left-back. But, again, I like to think I am a player that can play in a lot of positions reasonably well and hopefully never let anyone down."

With more than 230 Reds appearances to his name, that cannot be doubted with Hassell's next landmark the 200 league starts marker.

The 5ft 10in ace was on 188 before yesterday's scheduled clash against the Blades at Oakwell.

Indoor training may be hassling Hassell, but not mush else is and the tough tackler admits he is still loving life at Barnsley – a club with whom he would gladly finish his career.

"Obviously that all depends on the manager, the club and if I can stay injury-free but I would love to be able to finish here," he said.

"I've had seven years here now and I can't see myself going anywhere in the near future.

"I think I have got 230-odd appearances at the club and I didn't know I was coming up to 200 starts in the league but that would be good and another milestone.

"It's something you can look back on in your career and obviously I have done well here and my other club, Mansfield, I played 200 games for as well.

"That's a good feeling."

Not like the one after a hard day's training indoors.

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