Ahead of Sunday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final at Wembley, Caretaker Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom told Barnsley PlayerHD the Reds’ season does not end after this weekend.
Since stepping into the void left by Lee Johnson, Heckingbottom has guided his side to within two points of the play-off places, losing just twice during his 11-game reign.
Despite the visit to Wembley Stadium on Sunday, he does not believe the Reds have excuses to stop putting in the performances that helped them there.
“I think the lads have given everything,” he said. “It might be in their mind subconsciously as the tension and everything builds up but every game between now and the end of the season is huge.
“We’re chasing a massive prize, or two massive prizes should I say but you can’t question the commitment or the work rate of the players.”
Four points out of a possible six over the Easter weekend was another major boost for the Reds, who were missing a number of key names through injury and international duty.
Callum Connolly and Ashley Fletcher have all been away with the England youth setups while winger Lloyd Isgrove has been with the Welsh international side.
Heckingbottom was quick to praise the players that have stepped in during their absence and hopes all three internationals are ready for the big day out.
He added: “I’ve been in touch with both lads, they’re back on Friday and they’ll have their suits and their tickets waiting for them, they haven’t been able to be a part of this because of internationals.
“They’ll have all the information sent out to them and come in on Friday, be ready to train and travel. We’re really pleased they’ve been out with the national teams.
“They, and Fletch (Ashley Fletcher) have represented themselves well and the club and we’re really proud of the players who’ve helped pick up another four vital points in two games.”
Despite the injury problems to Sam Winnall and Marley Watkins, the Caretaker Head Coach will give both players every opportunity to make the squad for this weekend’s trip.
“We’ll give them every possible chance. We’ll have a team ready for if one, both or neither of them are fit but that will be our call.
“They’re great lads and deserve every chance to get fit because they’ve played a great part in our season and will continue to play a big part between now and the end of the season.
“If they aren’t ready, we’ll have to pick them up and get them ready for the last seven league games,” added Heckingbottom.
Fellow coach Tommy Wright has had experience coaching the Reds in this competition and has previously spoken to Barnsley Player about winning the trophy with Chesterfield.
Heckingbottom has been quick to listen to advice from Wright, admitting it has benefitted him when preparing for the big occasion.
“I’ve taken a lot from what Tommy has said about this competition and his experience in it because it has helped with the planning.
“It’s about enjoying the occasion and that’s the message we need to get across to the players every game and they have to embrace the pressure and the tension.
“But unlike a play-off final, there is not nearly as much at stake but anything we’ve tried to do with the players has been about enjoying it.
“Everybody’s got a part to play in getting us a win on Sunday, including the players who can’t play,” he added.