Paul Heckingbottom addressed the media ahead of the match against Fulham at Oakwell this weekend.
The Reds Head Coach started by giving an update on the fitness of the players following the conclusion of the international break.
Firstly Hecky spoke about James Bree, “He’s played 90 minutes last week in a reserves game and came through it fine. There was lots of energy in his performance and that’s what we want. He’s been training two weeks now and had a 90 minute game, so we’re pleased.”
On Aidy White, “He’s injured and went to see a specialist this week. It’s looking like he’s going to have an operation which the recovery time will hopefully only be two weeks. It’s unlikely that he’ll feature until after the next international break.”
On Ryan Williams, “He’s training every day now which was the first hurdle. He played 25 minutes, then 45, then 70 the other day so he’s progressing nicely and touch wood, he’s continuing to progress which is the main thing. It’s the day on day thing that we need to get his body used to doing.
“We’re not blessed with numbers but everyone else is fine and raring to go!”
The Reds have now had two weeks without a first team match so Hecky spoke of how the preparation for the upcoming Fulham fixture has gone and reflected on the matches previously before the break.
“This week has been a normal steady week to build up to the game, working on parts of the attack and defence. There’s only one game we’ve been disappointed in and that was Brighton because we didn’t affect the opposition with our performance.
“We know what we’re up against, big teams with big players, but we’ve shown when we perform we can win those games. That’s the mentality we have to have, we know it’ll be tough and difficult but we are constantly pushing and trying to improve.”
The Reds have now played 11 matches in the EFL Sky Bet Championship this season. Heckingbottom was asked what he has noticed so far about the step-up his side has made.
He said, “Getting the first goal and concentration for 90 minutes is vital. The next challenge as players and for us is to prepare them well because again, I have to check myself when I speak to the players because they have come a million miles. Three of the back four against Leeds were playing for England C together a few years ago and the other one is 19!
“While I am trying to speak to them and get them to improve, at the same time I have to recognise how far they have all come and the improvement they have shown. I’d like think teams walk away knowing what we’re about and think we have some good players.”
The latest opponents to visit Oakwell this weekend are Fulham. Heckingbottom spoke of what he knows about The Cottagers and assessed his squads’ chances of picking up all three points.
“Fulham are good on the eye. They like to have possession of the ball, and can have periods of long possession of the ball. We have to be really good out of possession, comfortable, and not panic when they’ve got the ball, knowing that when we do win it we’re good enough to cause them problems.
“They’ve got good options where they can change a game which is what everyone wants, to have depth like that. They’ve got dangerous players everywhere.
“At home we’ve done great. We know if we approach it right and give a good performance we’ve got a good chance.”
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