Barnsley’s Herbie Kane on seizing his chance, Valerien Ismael and Hull City
The year 2020 was no smooth ride for anybody, but there were plenty of twists and turns for Herbie Kane.
Having started an EFL Cup quarter-final for Liverpool before New Year, the midfielder played twice more for the English champions-elect in the FA Cup, including against Chelsea, before a loan move to Hull City.
The Tigers were on the verge of the Championship play-offs, but key player sales in January led to a remarkable downward spiral and relegation. Kane was powerless having had the distinction, thanks to the lockdown, of suffering not one but two season-ending injuries, the latter just as he and the team were hitting some form.
There was plenty of reported interest in Kane over the summer but a Championship move was far from certain until Barnsley came on transfer deadline day to bring him away from Anfield, and a club he recently admitted he wished he had never joined at all.
Not that it has all been plain sailing at the Reds either, having had to bide his time on the bench under new head coach Valerien Ismael as Leicester City loanee Matty James emerged as first-choice starter.
Only now are things beginning to turn, with James’ loan return giving the 22-year-old a fantastic opportunity to do the things he never managed last year – play regularly and make an impact.
On the conditions at a free-falling Hull and his own corresponding rotten luck, Kane told The72: “It was difficult. But personally, the games I played in I think I did well.
“It’s not nice when you’re losing games and that happens, but it was a good experience. I felt like I benefited.
“(The injuries were) difficult. It’s football, those things happen, especially when you’re playing at a top level and you need the most from your body. Those things happen and I worked hard to get back. I feel like I’m starting to get back in rhythm.”
Since Kane’s arrival Barnsley have scaled the table with Ismael’s unique style of play, as direct and no-nonsense with the ball as it is intense and high-pressing without it, helping claim 10 wins in 16 Championship matches.
He has had to be patient for his chance, while also showing he can adapt to demands which took some getting used to for a player who honed his craft in the Liverpool academy.
“It’s all new to me but there are different ways of playing,” Kane said. “It’s going to help me in the future and I’m enjoying it. The more I play, the better I’ll become.
“I’ve never played this way, but if you can play different ways it’s going to help you moving forward. At first it was a challenge for me but I feel like I’m getting used to it now and doing my best in the way that he wants us to play.”
James’ departure has opened the door for Kane to, at last, have his time, and he is determined to seize the opportunity with both hands.
“(When) you have the manager backing you and supporting you and wanting you to play, it all comes down to me really, how I do play and making sure I put a performance in. Hopefully I can repay the gaffer by putting in good performances and getting wins.
“I’m pleased I’ve been starting the last few games, hopefully I can continue that. But I’m going to need to put good performances in and help the team to make sure I do start, and make sure I give a reason to be in that starting 11.”