Hecky started by giving an injury update on the squad, starting with Marc Roberts.
“He’s alright, he’s been outside running and he’s running again today. He’s progressing just as we expected really. He’s still a couple of weeks away but we are happy where he is, we have to be careful with him because he’s a big player for us.”
Saidy Janko, Aidy White and Stefan Payne have been missing from the Reds squad for a number of weeks now. Hecky gave a further update on those players.
“It’s looking like after the international break we’ll get them all back. They’ve been out a while now so it’s pointless rushing them for one game and then missing them again with important games coming up. We’ve had them all out at once and hopefully we’ll get them back all at once.”
Following recent injuries and suspensions, Heckingbottom spoke of how pleased he was with how the squad have reacted to that.
“The most pleasing thing for me, which we showed last year, is that we’ve picked up four points in the two games where we’ve had the least players possible available, so it’s been really pleasing and a good reflection of the mentality of the group and it means a lot to me seeing stuff like that.”
The Reds received good news in the camp this week with the inclusion of Captain Conor Hourihane in the Republic of Ireland squad. Hourihane has been included in the initial 35 man squad, which will be cut down before the match against Austra in Vienna.
Hecky said, “Conor and I are the same, we will be delighted when he makes the final squad. I’d love him to get in, he deserves it, his football deserves it, then there’ll be another hurdle as well and Conor will be the same we will just be thinking about the cap. It’s one stage at a time, it’s about him getting in that final squad, he’s been at this stage before. We’ll be doing everything we can to help him get over the next hurdle.”
This weekend will see the Reds go up against Burton Albion at the Pirrelli Stadium. The Reds have only had one match there in their history, which was a 0-0 draw during last season’s promotion winning campaign. Hecky gave his thoughts ahead of the match.
“They’re a tough team. Their home record is great, you’ve seen the Club’s that have gone there and really struggled so it will be a massive test. I don’t think it’ll be a dissimilar game as to when we went there last year. Two teams flying high in the league and performing well, a real war of attrition if you like. High intensity, energy, work-rate and lots of quality on show. They’ve obviously changed their shape to last season and it’s suited the players they’ve got, I think that’s a big reason why they are picking up results so it’ll be a really interesting game.”
With Burton and Barnsley both having good starts to the season, Heckingbottom was asked whether teams have underestimated both Club’s so far, which is a sentiment that The Brewers Manager Nigel Clough has also agreed with.
“We went there last year so we know what it’s all about, and I do think that’s part of it. I think Nigel has been spot on what he’s said there and they’ve used it to their advantage and caught teams out. I don’t think that’s all it is though, as they’ve played really well and imposed themselves on some good teams. They’re a good side and they’ve brought some experience in. A lot of their signings have played at this level. It’s not fluke for me that they’re doing alright, especially at home.”
The Reds next three fixtures will see them play teams below them in the league. Heckingbottom was asked if this presented an opportunity for his team to go on a good run of form and try to pick up more points.
“We always try, regardless of who we play. This league is crazy and we’ve seen that. Preston were right down there and have put a good run together and were unlucky against Newcastle so they’ve flown up the table. The two games I thought we were below par this season were against Brighton and Fulham, who both beat teams at the top 5-0 at the weekend! You can never be too harsh on yourself, but likewise you can never give yourself points and expect things. You’ve got to turn up and perform every single game, but even that might not be good enough. I believe and the players believe that if we do turn up and perform well then we have a great chance of winning.”
Watch Paul Heckingbottom’s full press conference above!
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