Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the press ahead of Thursday night’s Play-Off Second Leg at Walsall.
The Reds travel with a 3-0 victory secured from the first-leg in front of a packed Oakwell crowd, and Heckingbottom gave an update on his squad’s fitness following the match and what his thoughts are on team selection for Thursday night.
“Everyone is alright following on from Saturday,” he said. “The injured boys - James Bree and George Smith - are progressing so hopefully we’ll get them back in training within a couple of days. (There are) no new injury worries.
“I’m just picking a team on merit. They’ve got the results, they deserve to be in the team. It’s as simple as that. What we do want is the options and the cover, the possibility to change things in the games. You’ve seen in the last few games we’ve changed and tightened it up when we need to.”
Heckingbottom was then asked specifically about Lloyd Isgrove’s form of late.
“He’s been terrific," continued Heckingbottom. "He set the tone for us at the weekend. The way he set about it, first touch got the ball, straight at the full-back. It was that mentality and tempo, he set the tone and the fans responded. They loved to see that. We’re gutted his goal was disallowed because it’s something we’ve been working on. I’ve been delighted with him in the last couple of games.”
The Reds Caretaker Head Coach continued, “We’ve said it all along, it’s not just the 11, every player that has come in has done their job.
“It’s a different mentality about this team now. Everybody about the club, winning games breeds a different mentality, the standards and expectations are different and I really think they’re all enjoying it. They’re enjoying winning games, working hard and seeing the rewards that come from that.”
With a 3-0 lead heading into the second leg, Heckingbottom offered a view on how his side will approach the match.
He stated, “Win the game! Just win the game! I’ve said it in every interview, it’s just about winning the next game that’s in front of us. We’ll prepare and set the team up with the players having the mentality to go out and win the game, which is exactly the same.
“We’ll have to make sure we get the goal, it’s as simple as that.” He continued, “You have to have that mentality, we can control what we do, any sort of a goal goes against us and we’ll just fight it back then try and come back and win the game. That’s our mentality, it’s been the same in every single game and we’ll try and continue to do it.”
Heckingbottom then reflected on the weekend’s superb result and explained how his side has the ability to change their tactics instantly if required.
“We were unlucky with Issy’s goal being chalked off, but then we did get the luck with Adam’s shot going wide so that evened itself out.” He said. “I’m not going to complain about that. I think it was that burst of 15 to 20 minutes after half-time where we really set about them and you could see the tempo and energy in the performance, which got us the rewards.
“Walsall then had a ten-minute spell where they got in behind us a little bit and we needed to make the change so we could kill off any sort of momentum they had. To keep the clean sheet at the end was really important.
“They’ve got to try and win by three goals, we know that and they’ll be coming at us at some stage. Whatever way the opposition set up we’ve got a way we think we can adapt and get the best out of the game. We changed a little bit at half-time against Walsall, we went a little bit more direct and relied on tempo and I think we’re in that position where we can change and adapt depending on what’s in front of us.”