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Heckingbottom on Season Showdown at Wigan

4 May 2016

Paul Heckingbottom says that the club must give their all this weekend against Wigan Athletic to make it into the play-off places.

The Reds currently occupy sixth spot in the League One table and are level on points with Scunthorpe United with Gillingham also breathing down their necks.

Caretaker Head Coach Heckingbottom feels that the side must have a no-holds-barred approach if they are to secure a spot in the play-offs.

He said: “It has got to be one final push because we know what we need to do. We can’t be holding anything back for what might happen after that.

“We’ll begin to address everything next week provided we get through. We can’t hold them back for what might happen next and it has to be 'do or die' attitude.”

He added it would be a great achievement to finish in the top six given the season the Reds have been through.

From bottom four at Christmas to being one game away from the play-offs, Heckingbottom feels the season has been remarkable to this point but hopes there is one last hoorah in store.

“It seems like a dream we’ve been chasing forever because of how far behind we were and now we’re within touching distance.

“It’d be great to get there and it would be great for the players because the experience is invaluable.

“For us as a club, financially it would be rewarding and for the player it will be because they would have achieved a goal that looked impossible.

“We were hoping for this situation, to be in it in the final game of the season and I’d rather be in the position we’re in.

“We’re pleased with where we are and I’m delighted we’ve come so far and we’re in the mix, now it’s about finishing the job and hopefully everyone’s as excited as I am.

“This is what we were dreaming about and hoping for and as the season has gone on, now it’s a case of finishing the job.

“We all know what’s at stake and every game from now to the end is huge, whether it ends on Sunday or not, it’s a monumental occasion.

“We have to be in it together and they’re going to help us push over the line.”

The Reds Caretaker Head Coach expects to be without the services of James Bree, George Smith, Marley Watkins and Ryan Williams for the visit to the DW Stadium but Aidan White is pushing for a return.

Bree and Smith will only make the bench if their injuries are manageable but he insists he will not push them and hope for a miracle.

Heckingbottom is wary that the Latics will look to deny the Reds a shot at a return to Wembley but added that the side should take inspiration from beating them earlier this season in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

He said: “They’re league champions and their display here showed their class, they’re the best team we’ve played all season but we beat them in the cup and it’s something we have to take heart from.

“We know we pose any team a threat away from home and it’s up to us to impose ourselves on them. We know they have good players and can change the team around so we have to plan for different scenarios.

“If we’d have won on Saturday and been two points in front, it’s a different story so you have to approach it with the right mindset and the situation is what it is.

“We know they’re not invincible and we have to go there and win the game, it could be the Premier League Champions Leicester we’re facing, we still have to win, it doesn’t matter to us.

“It’s a big challenge and we have to embrace that, the fans are part of the occasion and journey on Sunday which will make it a great atmosphere but we’re there to do a job.

“Wigan have achieved their goal but we’re still fighting for ours and they’ll have to be at their best to beat us.”

Since taking charge of the team in February, Heckingbottom has gone on to win Manager of the Month and guided the Reds to their first silverware in over 100 years.

He reflected on his time since taking control of the club and the season as a whole.

“Speaking from a personal point of view, I’d be deflated and gutted if we didn’t make the play-offs,” he assessed.

“I’m not one to look back but winning the first major trophy in 100 years and first win at Wembley, I don’t know if I’d take satisfaction from that.

“From the club’s point of view, they have to look at it that way but it’s been a fantastic season. We have the foundations in place and belief if you stick to your plan you will get there.”

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