Reds Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom addressed the media ahead of the Reds game against Aston Villa under the lights at Oakwell tomorrow night.
Heckingbottom started by giving an update on multiple players who have recently suffered with injury, but stated there were no ‘new issues.’
Starting with Aidy White, Hecky said, “We still don’t know a time on Aidy, he has a little tear and has to rest until he feels comfortable with it. It’s not a major muscle so you can’t put a time-frame on it, it’s just a case of how quick it settles down but the good news is that he feels a lot more comfortable with it than what he did on Friday.”
White’s replacement at the weekend was summer signing Cole Kpekawa, who Heckingbottom praised on his performance.
“He got better as the game went on. He’s come up against one of the toughest wingers in the league in Knockaert and he got better as it went on. He needed to get tighter to him and try to dictate to Knockaert rather than vice versa and he did that second half.”
Saidy Janko was another player missing through injury at the weekend after picking up a knock in training on Thursday.
“He’s torn his thigh and will be out a few weeks. Again, we’ll have to see how he goes with treatment but it’s disappointing because he’s come in and made an impact from the bench. We were looking at getting him to start games as we came into this busy period, but he’s out the picture now until after the international break.”
Right-back James Bree returned to the bench for the Reds trip to face Brighton.
“He was on the bench because we needed another defender on there. He still needs to keep working hard and pushing himself, doing his rehab and training hard.”
Long-term absentee Ryan Williams has been making progress in recent weeks, explained Heckingbottom.
“He’s still on his way, he’s been training with the under 23s now for a couple of weeks. We’re increasing his training load gradually, his next step is to start getting some game time and we’ll see how he responds to that.”
Reflecting on the loss to Brighton at the weekend, the Reds Head Coach spoke of how his side made the game hard for themselves. The turnaround for the Aston Villa game is quick, and the Reds have a good record of late for midweek matches.
“There was lots and lots of things wrong what made the game harder for us. The lads worked their socks off again which in games like that you end up doing more running than you should, which is difficult and horrible. You have to understand how to influence, communicate and organise against who you’re playing against then take control of the game. We were always on the back foot.
“I know we’ve done well on Tuesday nights generally, at least in the time that I’ve been doing it. We’ve really enjoyed them home and away so long may that continue. We try and approach every game the same and ask the same and they have been fantastic at it. The players were as disappointed as everyone else at the weekend.”
On the Aston Villa game, Heckingbottom spoke of how he hopes it’s a fantastic occasion but one that his side can win against a team that will pose real threats.
“I hope they’ve sold their allocation so they fill one end and we will get thousands of our lads in as well. It should be great, I hope the performances from both teams matches it because then we will have a real high tempo and loud noisy atmosphere.
“I’ve been down there to watch a couple of their games. The last time we were at Villa Park I was playing there! They’ve got players and staff with lots of experience and quality, and they can score a goal in the blink of an eye. Regardless of how well teams play against them, they pose a real goal threat with the players they have on the pitch.
“They’ve got tremendous pace in the team, so again regardless of how they are playing they are a threat on the break and in one-on-one situations. We have to look after ourselves and we have to make sure we affect the opposition. We're not expected to win every game but we're going to try and win every game."
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