If you had asked England fans in 2006 to predict which promising youngsters would be a core part of the side by the time of this year’s World Cup, it’s likely the name Giles Barnes would have been a common theme.
After bursting onto the scene with Derby County as a 17-year-old, the attacking midfielder’s performances while helping lead the Championship side to promotion during the 2006-07 campaign were impressive enough to earn him the label of “the next Theo Walcott” and have a host of Premier League clubs chasing his signature.
Tipped as a future England regular, a string of serious injuries however put paid to any of those aspirations, with Barnes limited to just 33 appearances with Derby over the next five seasons, before being controversially released in December 2009, an earlier loan spell at Fulham failing to prove the kick-start for his career.
Following unspectacular stints at West Brom and Doncaster, respectively, Barnes found his wonderkid status noticeably tarnished and, without a club going into the summer of 2012, facing an uncertain future.
That was until an opportunity to move to MLS with the Houston Dynamo presented itself, where, after a relatively slow start, Barnes’ fortunes have taken a noticeable upturn.
Converted to a more forward role in the Dynamo attack, the 25-year-old was one of the breakout stars of the 2013 season, scoring nine goals in 32 games while banishing his past injury problems.
Continuing 2014 from where he left off for the Texas-based club, it now appears that Barnes will get the chance to play international football after all, though obviously not for the Three Lions.
Barnes has in fact been in discussions with Jamaica for several years about the possibility of representing the Reggae Boyz and has now finally chosen to file his one-time switch, thanks to some persuading by teammates Jermaine Taylor, Omar Cummings and Jason Johnson, who are all part of the setup.
Speaking to mlssoccer.com, the dynamic attacker said: ‘You always want to play international football; it’s a dream as a child. You’ve got to get selected but I think I’ve got a lot to offer. That’s just me. I’m not being big-headed but I’ve played at the highest level, and I can play at a variety of positions.’
Eligible by way of his grandfather, Barnes follows a handful of British-born players who’ve opted for the Caribbean nation in the past, such as Jobi McAnuff, Garath McClearly Adrian Mariappa and Wes Morgan.
The current side are a young work in progress but, with CONCACAF’s qualifying far from the toughest around, the chance to play at a World Cup in the future may in fact be there for Barnes after all.