On the 28th of May 2007 Giles Barnes came off the bench at Wembley in the Championship Playoff Final to set up the goal that gained Derby County promotion to the Premier League. An achievement that accumulated what had been a magnificent season for Derby and also Barnes on a personal level. He was awarded with the club’s ‘Young Player of the year award’ for the season after making 44 appearances in all competitions and scoring 8 league goals. It was this season that earned Giles Barnes a reputation as one of the most promising young English players around.
Since his success in the 06-07 season, Barnes’s career has been one plagued by injury, yet as his current club West Brom gained promotion to the Premier League last weekend, Barnes at the age of 21, has the chance for a fresh start. Presuming Barnes remains injury free and gets given a fair opportunity in Roberto Di Matteo’s first team next season, he has every chance to reinvigorate his career, a career that had been in danger of moving in the wrong direction.
After the Championship Playoff Final in 2007 it was discovered that Barnes had played the game with a broken foot and as a result missed the entire summer of football. This led onto the season that gained Derby County the label of the worst Premier League team ever. Barnes made 23 appearances in total that season as injuries plagued him as he failed to really stand out in what was a poor team. In further commiseration for Barnes and Derby, his season ended early when it was discovered he had a knee injury which required major surgery, meaning that he would miss the remainder of the 2007–08 season and the start of 2008–09.
When he returned in January of 2009 he moved to Fulham on loan with view to a permanent deal. Although things didn’t work out as injuries prevented Barnes from making a single appearance for the cottagers. He returned to Derby for the start of this season yet unsurprisingly he got injured in pre-season, which led to the mutual termination of his contract in December. Meaning the last game he played for the Rams was in the Premier League back in 2008.
On 3 February 2010, Barnes signed for West Bromwich Albion on an 18-month contract, with an option for a further year. He is being broken in slowly at the Hawthorns making mostly substitute appearances.
Giles Barnes has had a career that has so far been overshadowed by injury, but hopefully now the worst is behind him and at the age of 21 he is still a player that has the potential to cut it in the Premier League. An injury free pre-season for the 10/11 season would be Barnes’s first since 2006 and would give him the perfect spring board to show us whether the great potential he once showed as a teenager is still within reach. Or will the name of Giles Barnes like many young others gone before, become synonymous with the phrase ‘what could have been’.