England goalkeeping coach David Watson claims Jack Butland wanted to stay longer at Barnsley this season.
The 20-year-old stopper impressed in 13 games with the Reds before Christmas then returned to parent club Stoke but has not played recently and has been linked with a loan spell at Leeds.
"I think Jack would have liked to have played longer but he was wanted back at Stoke at that time," Reds legend Watson – who has coached Butland with Birmingham and England – told the Chronicle after speaking to the Barnsley supporters' trust at Oakwell last week.
"Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to come and watch him at Barnsley but I've spoken to him since and I told him to join the club because it was a good opportunity. I told him my boots would be the toughest he'd ever fill. He's a real talent and an unbelievable human being for a guy of such a young age. It was important for him to play games and he needs to do so again."
As well as being one of Roy Hodgson's right hand men, Watson – who played for Barnsley in the Premiership during Danny Wilson's first spell as boss – is also the goalkeeping coach at Norwich City, where David Fox returned last month after a loan spell at Oakwell.
"David said the team spirit is good at Barnsley and they should be doing better than they are," said the Royston man.
"It's always sad when any manager loses his job and I felt for Dave Flitcroft (who was sacked in November and replaced by Wilson) because I have spoken to him a few times and he did a fantastic job last season. Obviously I know Danny well. He's very popular at Barnsley and I think he will have put new life into the team and maybe they need someone who has been there and done it all. "There have been tough times for the club and I feel it more than anyone. I hope they do what they did last season. "It would be a phenomenal achievement for them to stay up again.
"They just need momentum and belief that they can stay up. There will always be haves and have nots in every league. "It's well- known that Barnsley don't have as much money as other clubs but. on the football that I have seen in that league. I think Barnsley can compete. Norwich are in a similar situation in the Premier League but both clubs can do it."
A full interview with former under 21 international Watson on his Barnsley career and his England role is on page 20 of this week's Chronicle.