As Barnsley seek to continue their play-off challenge, Caretaker Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom gave his thoughts ahead of this weekend’s opponents Crewe Alexandra.
The Railwaymen edged the earlier meeting this season 2-1 when both sides were fighting at the bottom of the League One table.
Despite Crewe being in the relegation zone, Heckingbottom has an idea of what to expect from them and needs to be wary of the threats they pose in attack.
“You sort of know what to expect from Crewe," he said. "To be fair to them, they’ve always been down there and every season they’ve put a good run together and got out of trouble.
“We need to hope that they are not getting any sort of form or run from Saturday’s game,” Heckingbottom added.
“We both have fairly young teams and we’re both looking to develop our young players. It’s a game where we both need points for different reasons. It will be a tense game but hopefully an entertaining affair.”
An injury to left-back Aidan White and Adam Hammill’s suspension have both been a major blow for the Reds and Heckingbottom assessed the importance of both players so far this season.
“Aidan has had his scan and there’s a rupture of one ligament, the least important as such, but there’s a grade two tear to the more important ligament.
“We’re going to treat it conservatively at the minute through rehab, the specialist was happy that he didn’t need surgery.
“Aidy has been great looking after his body and in terms of quality and we’ll have him back as soon as possible, we’re optimistic he’ll play again this season.”
“With Adam, you can see why he’s been given a red card but there is nothing we can do about it. It’s pointless going for a review because they’ll only need a freeze-frame and contact point.
“It’s unfortunate we’re going to have to lose him for three games, Adam’s as disappointed as we are, and he should be because he knows better but we’ll get on with it.
Heckingbottom continued: “It’s always a concern to lose experience and two of our better players this season but it’s an opportunity for someone else.
“George Williams has stepped up at left-back and is trying his best to keep in the team, putting his body on the line and that’s what we expect from whoever comes in on Saturday.”
The Caretaker Head Coach assessed his other injury concerns throughout the side, with a number of players carrying small knocks.
“We’ve had lots of games lately and people carrying things. Conor Hourihane has an ongoing hamstring problem, Marley has had a sore toe for a while but it’s nothing the medical team can’t look after.
“It’s just a case of getting the lads enough training but also making sure they’re getting enough training to benefit their injuries.”
On the recruitment front, Heckingbottom admitted the Reds are in the market for players following Kevin Long’s return to Burnley, White’s injury and Hammill’s suspension.
The Caretaker Head Coach is optimistic of adding another name to the Reds squad ahead of this weekend’s trip to Crewe.
He said: “We are looking and hopefully we can have a winger in before Saturday because we’re looking light again as a squad.
“Although you might be happy with your 11, we need to make sure that we’re strong enough to cope with anything that might come about on Saturday and before Tuesday as well.”
Clean sheets have been a more regular feature for the Reds in recent weeks after the side picked up another in their goalless draw with Bury on Tuesday.
Heckingbottom reflected on another strong point gained against the Lancashire outfit and how important it is for the side.
“It’s absolutely huge. Despite being frustrated in how we performed going forward on Tuesday, at no point did I feel threatened.
“That’s a credit not just to the back four and the keeper but the whole team, because we attack as a team and defend as a team and we defended great.
With just six points separating the Reds from the play-off places and 14 games remaining this season, there is still time for the Reds to make a push from the top six."
Heckingbottom is hopeful that Barnsley can mount a push for the top six with plenty of games remaining in the season.
“If you’re in single figure games, it is a big gap,” Heckingbottom added. “Everyone can go on good and bad runs but we keep trying to claw those gaps back.
“If we’re only two points away on the last game of the season then we’re still in with a chance of making it.”