Jason McCarthy is to treat Wycombe's next fixture as “just another game” when he comes up against his former club Barnsley in the league on Saturday.
McCarthy made 24 appearances in all competitions for the Tykes last season before joining the Chairboys on a permanent deal this summer, but the right-back is looking forward to seeing a few of his former teammates this weekend.
“It will be good to see some familiar faces, but it’s just another game. I’m not really focused on the fact that it’s Barnsley; I'm more looking at us continuing our really good form. We’re in a good place at the moment”.
McCarthy has reflected on his time at Barnsley as a huge learning curve for the defender in his career, after dropping down the pecking order at the end of last season.
“It started off great. I played the first twenty-odd games and I was enjoying it and I thought I was doing okay. [Paul] Heckingbottom (Barnsley manager) took me out of the team and then new management came in and I wasn’t really given an opportunity.
“But it is what it is and I’m so thankful for the experience. I learnt so much and I feel that I am a better player for it. I’ve definitely come on a lot mentally as well. It’s probably been the best learning experience of my career.
“Out of all the good experiences I’ve had [both] here and also at Walsall, Southampton and then here again, that’s the one that I have learnt most from and that I am most grateful for”.
After a ten day break – with Wycombe's last match seeing the Chairboys take all three points away at Accrington Stanley – McCarthy was happy to have had time to recover and has taken positives from the break, despite thoughts that a short spell away from match action may have derailed momentum from the side’s recent good run of form.
“The ten day break we can use to our advantage. We’ve had a bit of rest time and we have put ourselves into a really good position in the table and we’re ready to kick on again.
“You can look at both sides to it. I think [playing] may have been a good thing but at the same time I think a lot of us needed a rest. It was a welcomed rest for me and a lot of the boys are feeling the exact same. It would have been good to continue, but [the break] is not so long. Ten days is not a massive amount of time and we’re ready and rearing to go again”.
The 23-year-old is also aware of how tough it will be to face his former side at the weekend; however McCarthy believes Wycombe’s strong run of form has made this fixture a greater contest and that the strategies deployed in training by manager Gareth Ainsworth could exploit weaknesses in the Barnsley side.
“It’s going to be a tough game; they are a very good side but they have got their weaknesses like any team does. The gaffer is brilliant at figuring out where we can exploit them and that’s what we’ve been working on all week. Two months ago this would have been a game where everyone would have written off Wycombe and said it was an easy three points for Barnsley but we’ve turned it into a big game, we can reel them in and we’ll be looking to do that”.
With the Chairboys currently in a rich vein of form, seeing Ainsworth’s side pick up ten points from a possible twelve, Wycombe have moved into the top ten of League One and McCarthy has expressed his delight with the positivity in and around the club.
“There’s a really good energy in and around the place at the moment. It’s a great dressing room and I’m absolutely loving be a part of it! It’s been a great month for us and the month before that wasn’t too bad either so it’s been a good sort of eight to ten weeks for us and we’ve really stamped our mark and started making noise and I think everyone is starting to take us seriously now which is good and which is what we want”.
As we have now reached December, a whole host of fixtures will be coming thick and fast for every club this month; however McCarthy is relishing the festive period ahead with Wycombe and is happy to play several games in such a short space of time.
“It’s easy mentally because I love it. I love the games and I love them coming thick and fast, but physically it is tough. The Christmas period is hard; it’s hard on your body. The games come again and again and again.
“For my family and for all the supporters that come to watch, this is their tradition. For Boxing Day and New Year’s Day we miss out on that as we play football, so their tradition is what we miss but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“I love it and I’m looking forward to the Christmas period. I always really enjoy this time of the year football wise and I can’t wait to get cracking and have a good month”.