MICHAEL COULSON is keen to show old club Barnsley he was far from finished as a footballer when he left the Tykes four years ago.
The York City striker returns to Oakwell for tonight's Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie between the two teams and is out to impress.
Coulson plied his trade for the South Yorkshire side in the Championship at the age of 19 and went on to play at Wembley in the 2008 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Cardiff, as he was named the club's Young Player of the Year.
But two cruciate knee ligament injuries, in quick succession, saw the ex-Scarborough attacker's progress at Barnsley cruelly halted and, following loan spells with Chester, Northwich and Grimsby, he was forced to revisit his non-League roots in an attempt to resurrect his career, culminating in an eventual move to Bootham Crescent.
On his added incentive to shine this evening, Coulson said: "You always want to do well in every game but, if I do play tonight, it would be good to put a show on and let their supporters see what I was capable of, because they did not get to see as much of me as I would have liked. After I injured my knee for the second time, that was the end of it for me there really.
"When I came back, they'd had a couple of new managers and, with Mark Robins under quite a lot of pressure at the time, there wasn't really room for me around the place. It was disappointing but that's football and, since then, I have been happy with what's happened in my career, so I can't complain.
"Football's a tough game and you get knocked down all the time. It's about how you deal with that, which determines what you do in your career.
"Luckily, I have dealt with that quite well and, hopefully, I can still kick on a bit."
Despite his ill fortune at tonight's hosts, Coulson stressed he harbours no grudge against the club he scored two goals for in 25 outings, adding: "I had a good time there and am looking forward to tonight.
"I've never been back for a competitive game and it's a good setting with a fantastic pitch to play on. It will be nice to see the physios again and catch up with a couple of players who were there when I was there."
With City chief Nigel Worthington suggesting that Wes Fletcher will be handed his first start since February this evening, either Coulson or recent striking partner Jake Hyde could be withdrawn from the visitors' attack.
Coulson is hoping, however, that he will not be the player dropping to the bench to accommodate last season's top scorer's return.
"It's a big game and a chance to test yourself against players from a higher level," Coulson said about tonight's first-round clash. "Everybody wants to play in these types of games.
"I don't think I have ever started a game with Wes up front, so it would be good to get that chance, but it's up to the manager what he wants to do and having Wes back fully fit is a massive boost for everybody at the club."
Wingers Anthony Straker and Lindon Meikle could also make way for Fletcher, with Coulson returning to a wide berth and the latter is not opposed to a switch back to the flanks, where he has operated during the latter stages of recent games.
"I've enjoyed my little spells out there during the last couple of games," Coulson confessed. "I've seen quite a lot of the ball and it's felt quite good."
Having beaten a Chelsea team featuring the likes of John Terry, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and Nicolas Anelka during that run to the FA Cup semi-finals with Barnsley and played against West Ham at Upton Park, Coulson would also welcome a bit of knockout glory with the Minstermen.
Now in his third season at Bootham Crescent, Coulson has only seen the club win one cup game - a Johnstone's Paint Trophy victory at Rotherham back in 2012 - and is well aware of the end prize in an oft-maligned tournament.
"People say it can distract you from the league but, sometimes, I think it's good to have a cup game to take a little pressure off the league campaign," Coulson reasoned. "It would be excellent for everybody if we can have a run in the cup.
"Some teams take this competition lightly and think it's a chance to play the reserves. But, for me, it's a chance to get to Wembley and people seem to forget that.
"You don't get many chances in your career to do that and all the lads - those who have played there and those that haven't - would love to go there because it's a massive opportunity for all of us."
Coulson is also hoping the competition can provide him with a chance to end a barren spell in front of goal, now stretching back nine games.
"I won't lie- it has started to get to me a little bit," he admitted of that sequence. "It's a bit disappointing because I have had some decent chances and hit a couple of unbelievable strikes that the keepers have got to but it's just one of those things.
"I didn't score until December last season, so I'm hoping I get one before then! I'm sure it will come sooner rather than later, because I'm getting in the right positions."
Barnsley cup chop to be a small slice
BARNSLEY boss Danny Wilson is only expected to make limited changes to his side for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy home clash against York City.
The Oakwell outfit will be forced into one reshuffle after winger Keith Treacy suffered a hamstring injury during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Yeovil with Dale Jennings in line to replace him.
But Wilson, whose priority this season will be a swift return to the Championship, is unlikely to rotate his squad greatly for the visit of the Minstermen.
Left-back Joe Dudgeon could be rested due to the knee condition that makes if difficult for him to play three games in a week.
In his absence, Lewis Nyatanga would be switched out wide from the centre of the defence, where Frenchman Jean-Yves M’voto could be handed his first start of the season.
Wilson’s other dilemma is in attack, where he is keen to give Kane Hemmings a chance following his summer move from Cowdenbeath, meaning ex-England under-21 international and Premier League striker Leroy Lita could be given a breather.
Those three changes might be the extent of any Tykes’ tinkering, though, with midfielder James Bailey also in the treatment room due to hamstring trouble.
The South Yorkshire club, currently eighth in the SkyBet League One standings, ended a run of eight games without a home win, stretching back to March, by beating Gillingham 4-1 on their last Oakwell outing.
But the side are yet to keep a clean sheet this term and have not managed a shut-out for 13 fixtures since a 0-0 Championship draw with Brighton on April 5.
Tonight’s team is likely to include four players - captain Martin Cranie, Jennings, Nyatanga and M’voto - who were members of last season’s relegated side.
Ex-Plymouth midfielder Conor Hourihane, meanwhile, is this campaign’s top scorer with three goals - all scored in his last three outings.
Barnsley (probable); Davies, Brown, Crainie, M’voto, Nyatanga, Berry, Hourihane, Abbott, Jennings, Winnall, Hemmings.