Ex-Derby and West Brom midfielder goes from injury-prone to MLS iron man

Once considered a chronic injury risk, Giles Barnes has revitalised his career in MLS with the Houston Dynamo over the past two seasons.

After first bursting onto the scene as a 17-year-old with Derby County, Giles Barnes seemed destined for stardom, earning the label of “the next Theo Walcott” and seeing a host of Premier League clubs chasing his signature.

Helping lead the Championship side to promotion during the 2006-07 campaign, the attacking midfielder was tipped to become an England regular in the too not too distant future, but a string of serious injuries put paid to those aspirations and even threw his career into doubt.

Limited to just 28 appearances with the Rams over the next few seasons, before his controversial release in December 2009, Barnes would go on to have unspectacular stints at West Bromwich Albion and Doncaster Rovers, before finding himself without a club in the summer of 2012 and facing an uncertain future.

That was until an opportunity to move to MLS with the Houston Dynamo presented itself, where, after a somewhat slow start, the former under-19 international has revitalised his career in commendable fashion.

Amassing 20 goals over the past two seasons to establish himself as a fan favourite in Houston, Barnes has also overcome his past fitness nightmares to set the club record for minutes played by an outfield player in a season this term, logging 3,028 while starting all 34 games.

“Giles put in a lot of work in the offseason,” assistant coach Wade Barrett told MLSsoccer.com. “It wasn’t a long offseason but he put in a lot of work and he came in transformed. We saw that from the beginning of preseason that he’d done a lot of work and came in really, really fit.”

With Houston’s 2014 campaign now over, and changes ahead with a general manager and new head coach incoming, Barnes isn’t 100% sure what the future holds, but the team’s star man is adamant about wanting a return.

“I want to be here. It’s up to the people in the head office,” he said. “I have an option so it’s up to them to decide what they want to do with me. It’s up to them what they want to do with me. I’m open to offers.

“I think I’ve had a pretty decent year,” he continued. “I came here, I wanted to win championships. Hopefully next year I come back and perform just as well, if not a little bit better as well, and we get the results to get into the playoffs and win the MLS Cup.”

Still just 26, Barnes’ improvement over recent seasons suggests he still has a lot of untapped potential to fulfil and, after an MVP-calibre campaign in 2014, even bigger things can be expected if he does return for 2015.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch