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Butterfield not sure what to expect on Barnsley return with Boro
JACOB BUTTERFIELD will return to Oakwell with Middlesbrough today wondering what sort of reaction he will receive from a Barnsley crowd he has not played in front of since leaving almost two years ago.
After the 23-year-old tore his anterior cruciate knee ligament during a New Year’s Eve victory over Leeds United in December 2011, Butterfield spent the rest of that season on the sidelines recovering.
During that summer his contract at the club he joined as a schoolboy expired and he opted for a move to the Premier League with Norwich City, who had to pay a substantial compensation fee.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton, who handed him two Capital One Cup starts for the Canaries, never gave him a minute’s action in the top-flight and he ended up heading to Bolton and Crystal Palace on loan last season.
Despite dropping back in to the Championship, a date at Oakwell has never materialised until this afternoon when he will be lining up in the Middlesbrough midfield against his first club. He is not sure what sort of reception to expect.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I won’t be building it up to more than what it is. But Barnsley was where it all started for me, they showed me the path in to professional football. It’s a club I really like and I’m looking forward to seeing some old faces. I was there at 16 and I had a really good feeling straightaway. I was there for five years and it had ups and downs, but it was a brilliant start for me.”
He added: “I had good feelings about Barnsley. I felt like I had to say bye so I did an interview with the Barnsley club website. I tried to leave on good terms. It was a Premier League move and most fans would understand it was hard to turn down the Premier League. It was progression.
“It is the way football is. I will probably get some jeers. I don’t know what to expect.
“My priorities now are doing a good job for Middlesbrough, getting the three points. That’s the most important thing now. That’s got to be the focus, rather than any emphasis on me – even if I would like to do well there.”
Butterfield, 23, has shown glimpses of the sort of form he was renowned for before his injury heartache at Barnsley in his first six outings for Tony Mowbray at Middlesbrough.
If he can repeat his early form in a Middlesbrough shirt then there is every chance he can torment his former employers, who are in desperate need of points at the foot of the Championship table. He is, though, not expecting Barnsley to provide an easy afternoon.
“The thing with this league is you have to go and deserve to win,” said Butterfield. “It’s not as easy as just going out and winning games you should. Barnsley are still a good team regardless of their position.
“We have a good team and we are really starting to get used to playing with each other. We are getting better by the game here. We will go there full of confidence and build on the 4-1 victory over Yeovil.
“We want to dictate the pace of the game and get the result we want, but we know Barnsley will be difficult for us.”
After the most frustrating time of his burgeoning career so far, Butterfield is relieved to be enjoying his football again after being shipped out on loan to Bolton and Crystal Palace last season by Norwich.
He said: “I was at Norwich for just over a year. Looking back to when I was injured, I don’t like looking back because I’m only 23, so I have plenty time, but I had to go to Norwich with an injury for six months.
“I had to sit in the physio room for two months while everyone else was doing pre-season. It was difficult. It did set me back. Maybe I have got some making up time to do because I have lost some time. "But every player goes through dips in form or injuries, you just have to respond in the right way. I’m doing that and hopefully it will continue.”
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