Prior to Barnsley’s local derby with Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, Caretaker Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the media about the Reds’ chances against their rivals.
Given their recent form, the Reds have been labelled favourites for their South Yorkshire derby, but the Caretaker Head Coach was quick to dismiss the tag.
“Possibly we can be seen as favourites but the league has been upside down all season. It would be a nightmare league to bet on because League One will probably let you down each time.
“Does being regarded as favourites matter? Personally I don’t think it does, we just need to be the best team on the day and come away with the best result and be the most effective.”
“We were disappointed with the game plan on Saturday against Gillingham and felt we could’ve been sharper but each game is different.”
In terms of the squad itself, Ryan Williams remains an absentee through injury but there is hope that Lewin Nyatanga and Josh Scowen could figure this weekend.
Heckingbottom said: “There are people carrying knocks and niggles given that we’ve been playing Saturday then Tuesday but it’s nothing we can’t manage.
“Lewin Nyatanga and Josh Scowen have been playing well in the under-21s while Jak McCourt is to train with the side today and everybody wants to be on the training ground.
“Everybody wants to be back when you’re doing well and winning because there’s a good atmosphere about the place.
“We’ve got a young group and the more they play, the more they know about how to manage their body, preparing for games and through training so everyone is managing something.”
Following Kevin Long’s return to Burnley, Heckingbottom faces a small selection problem but feels the players that were behind Long are ready to step up.
He added: “Longy and Alfie played well during the good run but we have got three really good centre-halves at this football club.
“Any two of three that are playing well are more than capable of stepping in and it’s an opportunity for Robbo or Lewin to step in and then try and keep the shirt.”
Ryan Williams has suffered a further injury setback and despite Heckingbottom wanting to keep the winger within his plans, he will be unavailable in the immediate future.
“The first thing for Ryan is we have to get him back on the training ground and training regularly. We have to manage Ryan back to training.
“Then we have to get his body to cope with the demands of training and it’s disappointing for the player and for the football club.”
With the Head Coach’s position currently vacant at Oakwell, Heckingbottom insisted it is not a case of telling the players to win so we can get the job.
He is focused on the immediate future at the club and will continue to do his best for the Reds, regardless of the job on offer.
He said: “Nothing has changed in the short term, the club have issued statements saying in the short-term they’re happy with how things are going and that’s all we know.
“There’s nothing more to say on that. In terms of the job itself, things do feel as though they have settled down and the players are settling down too,” he added.
“It’s not about me getting the job it’s about us getting the points. It’s not put any different slant on it, it affects my role but in terms of the players and the football club we want to win every game.
“I’ve been here a long time, nothing changed aside from aspects and decisions. I'm a Barnsley lad and fan, not trying to build CV to get a move elsewhere, I’m happy here - that’s how it is.”
Players at the club have come out in support of Heckingbottom to get the job on a full-time basis and admitted that he was “flattered,” by their support.
“It’s obviously a player’s team, we’re there to lead them and help them get better but they need to want to get better.
“If the players want to get better then you value your position in the role because it shows they want to get better and that you’re helping them to do that,” he said.
Doncaster have changed their manager since the sides last met and Heckingbottom insists that the Reds will not approach the game any differently to normal.
“Last time it was a frustrating game and it will be a completely different game this time," he said. "Both teams have new managers so it’ll be different and of course it’s a Yorkshire derby.
“I was asked a question the other day about derbies and I think they have changed in last 10-15 years and they’re different games both on the pitch and watching it from the stands.
“Hopefully we’ll get more fans through the gate and have a good atmosphere, which ultimately leads to an end-to-end passionate game.”
A late play-off push from the Reds is not out of the question but Heckingbottom insists there is still a lot of work to be done before that dream can become a reality.
“You have to have targets and goals to strive towards but we need to add perspective because there’s another 10 teams talking about that," he said.
“We know we’re sort of the second favourites to get there but we need to go back on a consistent run to get anywhere near but players are trying to impress every single game.
“We’re playing for places for the Wembley final but we’re going to try and win every game because you enjoy it more, you want to keep getting better and it rewards the fans for coming down and watching,” added Heckingbottom.