Reds Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the media this morning, ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Cardiff City.The Reds Head Coach kicked off proceedings by giving an update on the players who were absent from the midweek game at Hillsborough, with striker Adam Armstrong close to a return and left back Aidy White making significant progress.
“Aidy’s got more training in this week and so has Adam Jackson. So obviously they come in to contention. We’ve also got Adam Armstrong still not training with his foot injury. It was a freak foot injury and he’s had a scan and it’s all good, so we’re treating it as bone bruising, so really when he’s comfortable enough to play, he can play and we know it’ll not suffer any further damage, so that’s good news. Saidy Janko tweaked his hamstring in training yesterday which is disappointing, but that’s it. We’re yet to see how bad that is.”
Hecky was also buoyed by the news that Marley Watkins will return from suspension, which will provide a ready-made replacement for Adam Hammill who begins his own three match suspension, starting against Cardiff City.
“It’s another one returning. He’s coming in and Adam’s (Hammill) going out. That’s the nature of it. Marley was doing well and playing really well before his moment of madness on the pitch, but hopefully he’s learnt from it! He’s back in contention and he’ll be travelling with the rest of the boys and we’ll be getting away early today to beat the Christmas traffic.”
The Head Coach feels that Saturday’s opponents will provide a stern test for the Reds, but is confident that the team are fully prepared the challenge ahead in the Welsh capital.
“It’s going to be tough and it’s safe to say that every game that Cardiff have played since Neil’s took over, they’ve been competitive in. And not just in terms of scoreline and the results that they’ve picked up – but the nature of how they play, they are a very combative team and they cause everyone who they play against problems. We know it’s going to be tough and we have to be ready for it.”
Hecky is expecting a physical battle from the Bluebirds and has spent time assessing the playing style in an attempt to anticipate their strengths and threats.
“They are a big physical side and they like to put balls into the box. 75% of their goals have ben scored from set plays, they’ve got the long throw as well so we know we’re going to have to defend at times. We know it’s going to be tough, we know they are going to pose problems and we know what we’ve got to do to deal with that. But likewise, we’ve got to pose them problem and I’m sure Neil and his team have been looking at our players and coming up with plans to stop them.”
Heckingbottom is approaching his first full year as Head Coach and is looking forward to going up against one of the most experienced managers in the Championship in Neil Warnock. The Reds Head Coach was full of respect for his managerial counterpart and the positive effect that he has for the Bluebirds has in such as short space of time.
“He’s done it before hasn’t he, and I don’t think anyone expected any different if I’m honest. I’ve not been paying that much attention to what they’ve been doing, but you see the upturn in form and it’s only the last few weeks that you start to study them and see how they play. As I said, they’re going to be a really tough team to play against.”
“He’s got so much experience and for example we were watching one of the games the other day and it was a flat game, a dead game. And Neil got the crowd going, he really changed the atmosphere and it’s a good skill to have. He wasn’t relying on his players, he got the crowd going and its another part of his armoury, if you like. You can’t argue with his results and I don’t think anyone was surprised. You kind of think that ‘Neil’s gone there, so Cardiff are safe’. We know they’re not yet, but they will be.”
Watch Paul Heckingbottom’s press conference in full now on Barnsley Player HD.