Reds Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the press ahead of Friday night’s live Sky Sports match against Nottingham Forest.
Hecky started his press conference by giving an update on the fitness of his squad.
“There are no fresh injury concerns so we have decent numbers. We’re still waiting on Aidy (White) and Stefan (Payne) to come back in the next few weeks. Sessi (D’Almeida) is more longer term. Apart from that, everyone is fit!
“Aidy is running, it’s just a case of whatever he can do, he’s doing as much as possible of that. He’s desperate to be back in training but we have to be sure he doesn’t break down because then we will be back to square one.”
The halfway point of the season is fast approaching, in an opening period that has seen three international breaks already. Hecky has viewed those breaks as opportunities for player recovery, rather than a hindrance.
“It has been good to get players back. We’re using the next few weeks as the chance to give them a bit more fitness work and a bit more of a load into their bodies. It’s a chance to get the fitness into their bodies because when the fixtures start coming thick and fast over Christmas and in January, we’ve got no international breaks and we need everyone as fit as possible and as conditioned as possible so we can keep as many bodies as fit as we can.”
The Reds are currently on a four-match unbeaten run, including three clean sheets. The last two matches against fellow promoted sides, Wigan and Burton, have both ended in a 0-0 draw and Hecky explained why that was.
“Missed chances!” He stated. “We had some great opportunities early on against Burton and we then had to dig deep and weather them throwing everything in our box second half. Then, against Wigan, when we saw their team we could see they had come to sit back and hit us on the counter. The subs that they made showed that even more so as they brought on a left-back to have two on there, put a centre mid at right mid, it was evident what they were trying to do so we had to guard against that and be vigilant at our set-plays to guard against the counter.”
Hecky continued, “The only way the game would have changed would have been if we scored a goal. If we had taken one of the three chances in the first half then it would have been a different picture and the game would have opened up. They got deeper and deeper, and were content with a point. We’re still creating chances but we have to be more ruthless, we have to put them away.”
Nottingham Forest will be the visitors at Oakwell on Friday night, playing their second Sky Sports match within a week after defeating Ipswich 2-0 at Portman Road at the weekend. Hecky gave his thoughts on an improving Forest side.
“They’ve found a good way of playing at the minute and it makes them a real tough team in this league. We were looking forward to these two home games because we feel we haven’t played at home in a long time. We have to be strong, but we have to be more clinical in front of goal.
“They are a threat, they’ve been stronger of late. When you watch their performances they have had much more energy about their game, been a bit more direct, jumping on second balls and they’ve been more effective. They have been set up with five at the back in a system that has worked, allowing their two midfielders to really bomb forward and make forward runs to get on the second ball. They’ve looked strong in their last couple of games and it will make for a real competitive game.”
A special offer is in place for Barnsley fans on Friday night with tickets on offer at just £15 for adults. Hecky has spoken of how important the fans are to the Club and their positive influence on the players so far during this campaign.
“I hope everyone turns out!” He said. “It’s easy on a Friday night to sit in the pub with a beer, but I hope everyone turns up here then they can go to the pub afterwards celebrating three points hopefully! It has been great here this season, it started to build towards the end of last season. The more the we get in and the noisier we are it definitely helps the players.
“It’s been a reflecton of the performances. It also sounds daft, but the fans bring in more fans themselves with the atmosphere they create because they enjoy themselves and they want to come back. The players have a responsibility as our priority is to win, but we are trying to play in a way that the fans can attach themselves to but the fans know that the noise they make and the way they behave can attract even more fans. Everyone has got their part to play.”
Watch Paul Heckingbottom’s press conference in full on Barnsley Player HD.
Get your ticket to watch the Reds against Nottingham Forest on Friday night by CLICKING HERE.