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Hecky: "We can surprise even more teams."

9 December 2016

Reds boss feels there is plenty more to come from the side over the festive period.

Barnsley Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom feels his side are well-prepared for another tough test when they face Norwich City tomorrow.

Nine points from their last six games has helped the Reds up to 12th in the Championship table heading into a busy festive period.

Barnsley have kept four clean sheets during that spell and have also proved sharp in front of goal.

Heckingbottom feels the results do not fully reflect how the side have been performing in recent weeks and hopes to continue to pick up as many points as possible.

Hecky feels most Reds fans would be incredibly happy with the Reds’ current position in the table, but added that they cannot afford to rest on their laurels and wants them to continue to surprise their opponents.

He said, “If you asked every Barnsley fan at the start of the season, they’ll be delighted with 12th but we can’t rest on that.

“We have to push forward and know how hard it is. You take your foot off the gas you can have a run of games that knock you back down.

“But we know we’re capable, if we have a run of games of picking up positive results, we can start competing and we can surprise even more teams and that has to be our aim just to do as well as we possibly can.

“Confidence has been good and I keep hearing people say it’s been a difficult run but we’ve only had one defeat in six and nine points taken from six games.

“It’s a good run in this league and everyone will be snapping your hand off for that in this league. Confidence and performances have never been an issue, we know every game, every week, every month is a challenge in how we plan it.

“We have to be ready and be on our game every single time and train well every day and hope that makes a difference at the end of the season and get you the few extra points that you need,” Heckingbottom added.

The Reds Head Coach hopes his side will be able to draw on the experience of last weekend’s 3-0 success against Birmingham City to secure back-to-back wins this weekend.

He was impressed with the way they applied themselves and wants them to replicate their effort level against the Canaries.

“It was a good result and a good strong performance, we were pleased with lots of our game when we had the ball, when we didn’t have the ball and when the ball was out of play.

“We were pleased with lots of parts of our game and again it shows the importance of set plays but we’ve been stressing it.

“It could have been similar to Wigan where you dominate the game and have a really good performance but don’t get your rewards.

“It just shows how important they are. You get in front, it might be from a set play, the game becomes easier and you can impose yourself on the game more,” he added.

In terms of injuries, the Head Coach said most of the squad came through last week’s test unscathed but did admit there were some knocks that would be assessed prior to kick off.

“The lads came through OK,” he said. “Arma (Adam Armstrong) suffered a strange injury in the warm-up, he caught a shot funny and we were testing him at half time and apparently it had got too sore for him to come on.

“Hopefully he will have recovered well enough. Aidy White is back in training and again we need to keep him going the right way, so he’ll train again today and its now a case of keeping him training and getting him back.

“Jacko (Adam Jackson) will still be missing and he’s recovering from his hamstring strain but Stefan (Payne) is similar to Aidy, only a little bit further down the line.

“He’s missed 12-13 weeks but he’s built up to 70 minutes in the reserves, he’s been training for a couple of weeks and we need to keep progressing him and pushing him.”

Heckingbottom outlined the type of test he expects from the Canaries and feels that they will be another very robust opponent for the Reds.

The strength in depth is something that Hecky is slightly concerned about but added that this is one of the fixtures he has been looking forward to since the Reds gained promotion.

“I’m expecting, in terms of selection and how they’ll try and play, similar to what they did against Brentford,” he assessed.

“Alex [Neil] made five or six changes from the Derby game which I went down and watched and the performance was totally different.

“I thought they were good against Derby and the game could have gone either way but they were far better against Brentford, they scored their goals at good times and were really good with the ball.

“Apart from five league defeats in a row they’ve been strong all the time, so they’ll be hoping they’ve had their bad performances and bad results all in one patch.

“But it was a reminder for me as to how good a squad they have got, when they make changes and still get a big win and a big performance.

“A couple of those players I forgot were down there so it shows they have competition in every position and they are well equipped to challenge to get back up.

“The majority of the players have been successful in this level before, players with Premier League experience, never mind Championship experience.

“It’s a good game for us and a big test. It was one of the fixtures we looked for when we got promoted. We knew they were one of the bigger clubs and it’s one of the games we’ve been looking forward to.”

As the Reds approach the Christmas period, Hecky is looking forward to the testing spell and added that the entire squad would be used to full effect.

“It’s good, they’re good games for us to have. It gives us a chance to use all our squad because of the demands that we put on them and what they give to get the wins is massive.

“So we know we’ll be needing the squad between now and mid-January with the games that are coming up.

“Every game has been tough, before I sit in here, the games you seem to give us are the ones we slip up in and the games we have no chance in are the ones we win.

“It just shows that every single game is tough.”

Watch Paul Heckingbottom's press conference in full on Barnsley Player HD!

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