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Hecky: "We're looking up the division"

17 November 2016

Head Coach confident the Reds can extend their unbeaten run to four matches this weekend.

Reds head coach Paul Heckingbottom insists the Reds are continuing to look up the table as they prepare to face Wigan Athletic this weekend. 

The Latics are 22nd in the Championship table following promotion from League One last season, having only recorded one win in their last six games. 

Heckingbottom is hopeful of picking up another positive result this weekend and closing the gap between the Reds and the Play-Off places.

He said, “Every game is an opportunity but at the moment, we’re still looking up the division. Whoever is in front of us, we want to try and get above them.

“I don’t look at the league, it might change depending on your position changing, but you know where you stand and it’s about winning the next game and I can’t see that ever changing.

“If you’re doing that, you’re distancing the gap between you and the teams below you and closing the gap on the teams above you.

Wigan’s new manager Warren Joyce is preparing to take charge of his second Latics game, and Hecky is wary of the threat a team can carry with a new manager.

Despite the Latics being in the relegation zone, Hecky feels the result is far from a formality for the Reds and expects a fiery encounter between the two sides.

In the last three games, we’ve seen a Gary Caldwell team, a Graham Barrow team and a Warren Joyce team, and it’s not the finished article by no means.

“You can see slight changes and I’d expect to see differences again this weekend. One thing I will say about Warren is that he’ll demand that his team work hard and i would have thought they’d be doing that anyway.

“They have a new manager and they’ll want to impress him, it’s a clean slate for them and that’s one thing we know will happen, it will be a hectic game that’s really competitive.

“For us, we’re playing at home against a team below us which is great but they’ll see it as playing against a team that’s come up with them and it’s a chance for three points.

“It will be highly competitive and we have to make sure they’re ready for them.

“People don’t realise, they’re down there but they could have got as many points as us easily, they’ve had one goal defeats almost all the way through.

“Similar to us, they’ve been in the majority of games and we’ve been disappointing in two games and Wigan have been similar.

“Regardless of which way the result goes, it is not going to be an easy game,” he added.

Andy Yiadom and Adam Armstrong have both been away during the international break with Ghana and England Under 20s respectively.

Heckingbottom explained the condition the duo have returned in.

They’ve come back great but we’re wary of the travel times. Yids trained all the time, Arma played a full 90 minutes and a 45 minutes, scored a few goals and was looked after in-between, so physically we know he’s OK.

“Andy had about 18 hours travel time and Arma had a nine-hour time difference and Yids about four or five hours.

“It’s those sorts of things that can have an impact, we give them a day off because they’ve been good players, we want them involved, and want them in the building and up to speed.

“We have to make sure they are physically and mentally right to go. Even if they’re feeling fine but if we notice big differences and physical scars they may be affected.

“Adam’s been and got value out of the trip but it’s silly to take players all that way and not give them game time and mess their body clock up.

“When he’s coming back having scored four goals it’s great for us.

The international break has brought with it the positive of giving extra recovery time to Marc Roberts and Saidy Janko, and the Head Coach gave his assessment of their progress, along with that of full-back Aidy White.

The plus side to the break is that we have managed to get some of the boys back in training, Marc Roberts and Saidy Janko have been back in training.

“There’s still two days left before the weekend, Saidy got 45 minutes in a reserve team fixture, Robbo only came back in on Monday so there’s still a long way to go before Saturday.

“Aidy has had an operation on his stomach which seems to have healed really well, we’re trying to get his groin issues cleared up because it is connected, it’s all his pelvic area.

“We can’t have him back on the pitch until he is ready. He’s not training yet, Robbo and Saidy are back in training but Aidy is not,” added Hecky.

Despite being without a win at home since the end of August, Hecky feels this is not a cause for concern as the Reds have been playing well and picking up plenty of points.

He feels this weekend gives the Reds another chance to put some more points on the board.

Heckingbottom added: “The majority of fans see us play at home and they want to see wins here, if you get home wins, fantastic, but when we win away, that question is being asked again regarding home wins. 

“For me it does not matter where points come from, but a last minute winner is better than a first minute winner and it’s always good to send people home happy, but it’s about accumulating points.”

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