Shaun Barker: Ex-Derby captain wants Championship return

Ex-Ram Barker excited by new challenge

Former Derby captain Shaun Barker says it is "frustrating" to have been released by the club but is confident he can still play in the Championship.

The 32-year-old defender has not played a first-team game in more than three years after dislocating his knee and rupturing ligaments in March 2012.

He returned to play in Derby's Under-21 side in February but was not offered a new deal at the end of his contract.

"I feel I can do it in this division," Barker told BBC East Midlands Today.

"It's disappointing and frustrating. I had been there six years and had a tough three seasons but I loved my time at Derby. The fans have been great with me - especially in the last three years."

Barker also played for Sheffield United at Under-21 level towards the end of the season, a side managed by Barker's former Rams boss Nigel Clough.

The defender said he has had offers for next season and would be interested in linking up with Clough again, but will bide his time before making a decision.

"It's all about the rest for my career now," Barker added. "I have to look forward.

"It's an exciting time. There will be big changes and I am looking forward to playing first-team football next season.

"The relationship I had with Nigel was extremely strong at Derby. You never know; he is someone I have loved working with.

Shaun Barker
Barker played 105 games for Derby but his last senior match was over three years ago

"I have a bit of interest already. I will have a couple of weeks with the family and then I will pursue what options I have got."

Barker set up a charitable foundation to help under-privileged youngsters in Derby while he was injured.

"I concentrated on other things outside of football when I got the injury," Barker said.

"I had three areas, social care, sports in the community and arts and culture. I wanted to make a difference."