Reds Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the press ahead of the Reds first game of the 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship season.
Paul Heckingbottom insists this weekend’s curtain raiser against Ipswich Town will give him a good indication of how the Reds will perform in the Championship.
The Head Coach feels coming up against an experienced Championship side on the opening day will show him exactly where the Reds are after their strong pre-season.
He hopes they can test Mick McCarthy’s side and give the his squad a taste of what to expect from the division this season.
He said: “They have a similar squad to last season, they’ll play a similar way and they are competitive. I would have thought that they’ll be up there again.
“This is a great benchmark for us in terms of what the Championship is all about, we’re going to an established team and they’ve always been in and around the play-offs.
“We’re competing against better players but also higher profile, more experienced managers who have achieved a lot but we’re all looking forward to it.
“It’ll give us a good gauge of where we are after the 90 minutes.”
Despite slight injuries sustained against Peterborough United, the Head Coach added that the entire squad will be training today.
New signing Angus MacDonald will miss the match through suspension but Heckingbottom has a fully fit squad at his disposal.
“Everyone is fine,” he added. “We were looking after Adam Davies and James Bree but they’ll be back and hopefully everyone is fit and available for the first game.
“If we’d have drawn a checklist of what we wanted from pre-season, we’d have most boxes ticked but it only matters what we do on Saturday.
“You’d like to think that the preparation is right and we have the right level of fitness, it’ll stand us in good stead for the rest of the season and the first game.
“Angus is suspended this weekend but he’s the only one unavailable. It’s a suspension that’s overrunning from last season but that’s not a problem.
“He’s got an extra week to become acclimatized in how we play and get some extra fitness under his belt.”
Heckingbottom has called on the side to be performing at their best for the season opener and carry it on throughout the course of the season in order to perform at their best.
He feels they must be fully fit for each game as they cannot afford to play those who are not at full fitness.
“The big difference is we’ve gone up a league and we have to raise our game, but likewise with planning and preparation, we need to get the best we can out of everyone.
“We cannot afford to be carrying people at 80 or 90 percent, we need to have bodies to strengthen the side as and when we need.
“If we’re light in one position, it could mean we lose out on valuable points come the end of the season,” said Heckingbottom.
Tom Bradshaw and Sam Winnall have been linking well in pre-season and the Head Coach hopes they will be able to carry their fine form into the new season.
Heckingbottom said: “As with anything, it takes time but we’ve seen good glimpses in the games and in training. What we need to work on is their roles without the ball.
“Sam has it down to a tee because he’s worked with us for a long time while Tom has been asked to do different things and it’s about getting him on board.
“They’ve shown good link up play and if we can get good supply to them, there’s a good chance of them scoring goals.”
Watch the full press conference with Paul Heckingbottom over on Barnsley Player HD.