Middlesbrough: Jacob Butterfield relishes Barnsley return

Jacob Butterfield

Middlesbrough's Jacob Butterfield has praised former club Barnsley for their role in helping him launch his career.

The 23-year-old began his professional career at the Tykes and played 100 times before moving to Norwich.

Now at Boro, the midfielder returns to Oakwell for the first time on Saturday.

"I'm looking forward to seeing some old faces again. They showed me the right path at the start of my professional career - it was the perfect club for me at that time," he told BBC Tees.

Born in Bradford, Butterfield was part of Manchester United's youth team as a schoolboy but was released by the Premier League side as a 15-year-old.

He then returned to Yorkshire, joining Barnsley's academy and signing professional forms the following summer.

After four seasons on the periphery of the first XI, he made a major breakthrough in the 2011-12 season, starting every game until a knee injury curtailed his campaign on New Year's Eve.

"The whole club, from the fans to the management, gave me the confidence to express myself," he continued.

"I enjoyed having the backing of the football club and the crowd because it really helped me play well."

In his single season with Norwich, Butterfield failed to play a league game, although he did make eight starts in loan spells with Bolton and Crystal Palace.

His Trotters debut came in a 1-1 home draw against the Tykes, a match in which he was substituted shortly after half-time.

Since joining Boro on transfer deadline day in September, Butterfield has started all six league games before the trip to the Championship's bottom side.

"Obviously, playing my old team there's extra reason for me to put in a good performance," he explained.

"I feel like this time I'm back in a position where I'm full of confidence and can play really well.

"But I know the manager and a lot of the Barnsley players - it's going to be a really tough game."