Paul Heckingbottom spoke to a large amount of the media ahead of this weekend’s League One Play-Off Final against Millwall.
The Reds Caretaker Head Coach gave the Reds fans some team news ahead of the match and mentioned which players would be returning from injury in time for our second Wembley appearance of the season.
“Everyone is fit, everyone is training,” said Heckingbottom. “It’s great, that’s exactly what you want and I wish we had it every week. Marley (Watkins) is six weeks post-op, he’s trained today. Aidy is back in training, so are James Bree and George Smith. The only one out is Ryan Williams who is recovering from a groin operation.
“We’ll have to wait and see what the team is, you never know what’s going to happen. We might pick up an injury, but everyone can probably guess what we’ll do.”
Heckingbottom was asked whether his team selection would differ from the Play-Off Semi Final against Walsall and how his team would approach the Final.
“It’s about us being as good as we can possibly be and that’s how we’ll approach it,” he explained. “We’re not going to change things drastically, we’re comfortable in how we’re going to do things and what is expected from the players, they understand that and that’s why they’re performing well.
“We know when we’re playing Millwall that at some point they’ll be putting us under severe pressure, but so what. They’re going to have to do that if they want to beat us, but likewise we’ll have to try and cope with that and impose ourselves on them. It shouldn’t bother us, we should just deal with it and go on to hurt them.”
With the Reds going back to Wembley for a second time in two months, Heckingbottom told of how his squad will be more prepared for big occasions following their first visit.
He said, “I think we’ve got used to it. I’ve said in a lot of interviews that we’ve tried to bill every game as massive from when we beat Coventry, and I think now the back of the season we’ve seen the benefits of that.
“They are used to performing under pressure and they know how to prepare themselves for winning big games. In the back end of the season when we’ve had to perform in big games we have done it. More importantly, in terms of performance which we can affect we have not frozen in the way we want to play because that gives us the best possible chance of winning.”
He continued, “We’ve had good form since the turn of the year, those games have gone but what we can take is our knowledge and preparation. How we’ve trained, what our application has been like and what it’s taken to get the win because that’s what we need to do. We can’t help what Millwall do except impose our game on them and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”
Heckingbottom was then asked if his side would do anything differently to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final and the experience going once already to Wembley would have.
He stated, “I think it’s important, when we went down the first time we stopped off at Wembley on the way down. We tried to recreate the Sunday for them, a bit of mental preparation. I thought it worked really well, but we don’t need to do that this time. We’ve been in there and felt it for real, but more importantly we won, and we won from being behind.
“We’ve had all the emotion and we’ve got the confidence, we know what to do. We just know we have to win the game.”