In England there has been a tendency to overhype young players. Cauley Woodrow was once someone who received that treatment. The striker made his Luton debut just 12 days after his 16th birthday and three years later found himself making his Premier League bow for Fulham.
A series of loan spells followed but the now 24-year-old never really found a way to get his career off and running.
However, the 2018/19 season has proven to be different for the Hemel Hempstead-born player. He’s managed to find consistency, changing his game to become a key figure in the Daniel Stendel regime at Barnsley.
And after scoring against Coventry last weekend, he only proved his worth once more to the Tykes.
In 29 matches this season, Woodrow has 15 goals, 12 of which have come in League One. Barnsley needed a goalscorer and after struggling to find the net on a regular basis in the Championship last season had to look elsewhere.
Step forward the former Fulham man. He initially signed on loan from the recently relegated Premier League club last summer, but his move to Oakwell was made permanent in January. Having a settled club has benefitted Woodrow considerably, who rather than potentially playing for a contract at the Cottagers has his sights firmly focused on his current team.
But this season looked as though it would be another typical one for the forward. He didn’t play until November 2018 because of injury but he’s bounced back in some style since.
What is it about his game that’s changed? Well, he’s certainly benefitted from the confidence Stendel has in his players. He’s generated a fantastic atmosphere around the club and Woodrow is someone who has fed off of that tremendously.
Before finding the net against Coventry on Saturday, he’d gone four matches without scoring. In the past, he may have dwelled on that but a renewed attitude and sense of composure in front of goal is what has seen him stand out so often this term.
He’s become more resilient and most of all, at such a young age, a leader. Speaking to The Yorkshire Post in February after the Reds beat Wycombe, Stendel said: “He takes his responsibility and played very well. He is a leader in our team.”
With Barnsley being closely followed in the race for promotion by Portsmouth and Sunderland, they will need Woodrow’s renewed purpose and attitude more than ever.