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Barnsley old boy enjoying return to form at Boro
REJUVENATED Jacob Butterfield is gearing up for a return to his first club Barnsley this weekend and feels like his deadline day move to Middlesbrough has edged him back to his best.
IMPROVEMENT: Boro midfielder Jacon Butterfield, in action at QPR
During five years with the Tykes he became one of the hottest prospects in the Championship, earning England Under-21s recognition and the attention from a host of Premier League clubs including Newcastle United.
But before he was expected to make a move to the top-flight in January 2012, he ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligament in a New Year’s Eve fixture with Leeds United and was ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Later that year Norwich City did hand him a four-year deal at the end of his Oakwell contract, but he never made a league appearance for the Canaries before his £500,000 move to Middlesbrough just over a year later.
While he had loan stints at Bolton and Crystal Palace last season, it is only now Butterfield feels like he is starting to recapture the sort of form which made him such a success story at Barnsley after making six appearances in a row for Middlesbrough.
“I’m starting to feel more confident again,” said Butterfield. “When I moved to Norwich, they promised me the world and didn’t give me anything. At Palace and Bolton both the managers really liked me, but I never really had the run of games I would have liked until I came here. That might be because of injury.
“Since I have come I have started every game and that’s what I wanted. With that comes confidence. You feel the manager trusts you so you are going to feel more confident.
“When I went to Norwich I had not played for a long time, I didn’t really know what to expect from myself. It left me in a confused state really because at Norwich I wasn’t really given a chance.
“They wanted to get me back to full fitness before throwing me in to the team and that took time. The more I have played the better I have felt. I am getting closer to feeling like I have the freedom again, like I had at Barnsley.”
Having seen his dream move to the Premier League taken away from him so soon without making a single appearance under Chris Hughton for the Canaries, Butterfield has big designs on an immediate return with Middlesbrough.
Promotion appears a long way off at this stage, with Middlesbrough sitting down in 16th spot after winning just two of their opening 11 fixtures ahead of the return to action at bottom club Barnsley on Saturday.
Butterfield, part of the team which beat Yeovil Town 11 days ago, thinks a top six finish is still achievable.
He said: “For me, last year as an example, I was at Bolton until the first week in January from November. We were in the bottom half of table, then I went to Palace and we were challenging for the automatics. “Bolton ended up being a goal off the play-offs. They were miles off when I left in January. That shows you, if you are good enough to go on a run in this league then you can soon move up the league quickly.
“It’s not too late any time soon in the Championship. As long as we feel we are capable of going on a good run then we can do that. Come New Year I would like to think we will be in contention anyway, but I do feel we have got the quality to go on that kind of run we need.”
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