06:01PM, Thursday 17 September 2020
Sam Barratt has returned to Maidenhead United after an injury-disrupted spell with EFL outfit Southend United, and he’s determined to rebuild his confidence at a club that feels like home.
The 25-year-old has been a regular visitor to York Road as he battled back from the career threatening injury he sustained just weeks after earning a dream move from the Magpies into the professional game two years ago.
Barratt became a firm fan favourite during his first spell with Maidenhead and netted the club’s very first goal in the National League, a thumping header in the dying embers of the side’s 1-1 draw with Maidstone United back in August 2017. In all he scored 17 times for the club between 2014 and 2018, making 43 starts and a further 114 appearances off the bench as an impact substitute.
He now hopes to endear himself further to Magpies fans by helping the club rise up the National League, while he still harbours ambitions of making it in the professional game.
No one could have predicted the dreadful luck Barratt would suffer after moving to join Chris Powell’s Shrimpers two seasons ago. Weeks into the new season he suffered a terrible knee injury and spent the next 15 months on the sidelines nursing himself back to full fitness under the watchful eye of Southend’s coaching team. Under his new manager Sol Campbell he was brought back into the first team around Christmas time last season but, after impressing for a struggling side destined for relegation, COVID-19 brought the campaign to a premature halt and he was released by the Essex club without really getting a chance to prove himself in league football.
“I’m pleased to be back,” he said this week.
“Looking back on it no one could have predicted the last two years with my injury straight off the bat after joining Southend. I was just getting back to play when COVID got in the way again.
“It’s been disappointing, but I’ve still got a real ambition to get back to pro level. I want to use this year to rebuild my confidence and we’ll then see what the future holds.”
“I think for me what was essential this season is to be playing as regularly as possible, rebuilding my confidence. There were a few options for me (after being released by Southend) and Maidenhead appeared to be the best.
“It’s a place where I’m known, and I knew the gaffer.
“He knows what I’m capable of and I feel I can come back into the club and feel comfortable, and hopefully I can hit the ground running.”
Barratt says the last two seasons have been frustrating from a personal point of view, but he’s determined his playing career won’t be defined by this injury setback and believes he’s returning to Maidenhead stronger than before.
Having played and trained for an EFL League 1 club he also believes he can show off even more of his talents to United fans this season.
Returning to the Magpies fold, Barratt can also see the club has come on leaps and bounds in the previous two seasons, both on and off the field. He feels it’s a club that’s clearly going places and manager Alan Devonshire told him this is one of the strongest squads yet assembled by the Magpies in the National League.
“It’s a club that I love, and I want us to do well this year,” he said. “I think my performances can help us to do well, but we’ll see what happens.
“I’m looking forward to coming back and I’m craving walking back out onto the pitch week in and week out.
“I hope to come back better than I was when I was here before because I’ve trained at a good level with some good coaches. Hopefully I can come back with a more mature head on my shoulders in terms of playing and also a bit more know-how. I’m looking forward to doing well for the club.”
Barratt met his new teammates, and was reacquainted with some of his old ones, when he returned to training on Saturday. He now hopes to force his way into Devonshire’s starting XI in time for the first match of the season at Sutton United on October 3.
“I’ve had three sessions now, down at Bisham Abbey, it’s nice facilities down there,” he said. “Meeting the new lads and a few faces. I’m coming into it feeling confident I can be a character in the dressing room and want to help lift the club up the table. I’m looking forward to it to be fair.
“It definitely feels like the club has moved forward. From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen already it seems to be the case. There are some really good coaches working with the gaffer and there’s day-time training three times a week.
“The club’s really moving in the right direction and I think it will help push us forwards.
“To be fair you wouldn’t think that there’s six or seven new lads. Everyone seems to be getting on well and there’s a good vibe around. With the old players there’s a good spine to the team as well. Speaking to the gaffer he feels we have a strong squad this year, but it’s something I feel I can help improve as well. I’m looking forward to training more with my new teammates. This is a great club from top to bottom, the fans have always been great to me, supporting me and showing me love.”
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