Head Coach gave his thoughts to the media ahead of this weekend's trip to Bristol City!
Paul Heckingbottom is determined for his team to keep fighting for every point between now and the end of the season.
The Reds have just three matches of the season remaining, beginning this weekend against Bristol City, before hosting Burton Albion and finishing the season against Newcastle United.
He wants the side to continue to show the work ethic they have produced all season in a bid to secure another three points this weekend.
He said, “I know we put a lot of effort in but we have to, from my point of view, this is what you have got to work with and you have to make the very best of everything that you’ve got, not only do you want to make every player better, but if you’ve got that mentality in them, you’ve got a strong group.
“We’ve got a team that doesn’t accept second best and if we’re not good enough, we’re not good enough but it’s not through a lack of effort on anyone’s part.
“Everyone has to overachieve and I know and our coaching department and the effort they put in and the hours they put in, we are an overachieving department if you like and I have no problem saying it because we work hard at it and there’s evidence to show that.
“But we still want to get better. How we do that, I don’t know. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and there wouldn’t be as much satisfaction as when you do see a big improvement.”
The squad is expected to be similar to those that faced Wigan Athletic and Brentford over the busy Easter weekend. In addition, in recent weeks, players from the Reds’ Under 18s and Under 23s set-ups have been on the fringes of the first team and some have been named on the bench.
The Head Coach insists even at this late stage in the season, he will not just throw players into the first team squad for the sake of it, insisting all need to warrant their place.
On this weekend’s selection, he added, “We’re pretty much the same as we were for the last game, we still have those coming back from certain things but Adam Jackson is looking a lot better but it will pretty much be the same from the last game.
“The academy players have got to be good enough, I cannot see any value in doing it if they aren’t good enough. If they are and they’re knocking on the door then give them the exposure and experience if they’re ready for it.
“I’ve seen too often players who I know aren’t ready put in and they’ve suffered and you don’t see them again. If they’re ready and it is part of what will make them better then it’s great, but they still have to warrant their place.
“One thing they (Chris Howarth, Martin Devaney and Paul Harsley) have done is get a good group of players with a good work ethic which is really important, especially at our football club and that’s one thing they’ve really tried to instil off the back of that.
“They’re stepping up to Paul Harsley’s group in the Under 23s and we’ve seen the value of the 23s and if we can keep them playing the same way as us, we’ve given debuts off the back of it.”
This weekend sees a reunion with former boss Lee Johnson but Hecky feels this game must not be treated differently to any other. Despite only a few members of the current first team squad working under Lee Johnson during his time at Oakwell, friendships with the former Head Coach must be put to one side for 90 minutes.
He said, “There’s only a couple of our first team that know Lee now looking at our 11: Davo’, Robbo, Scowey and Marley. To the other boys, it’s just another game and that’s how we treat it anyway. All we know is we’re playing against a team in decent form who are scrapping for every point and we know how difficult it will be.
“It’ll be a really tough game and we know how tough it's going to be, they had a poor result at Preston and since then Lee’s made changes, he changed the shape, looking from the outside it seems a younger, more athletic team.
“They’re good players with the ball anyway whichever players he puts out, they seem to have a real structure with or without the ball and they’ve been getting good results off the back of that, with a goal threat up top.
“I’m not quick to get on the team bus the players will tell you that, they have to wait for me, I’ll see him afterwards but ‘Johno’ drinks girls drinks anyway, he has a different one every time so I don’t know what he’ll have in his fridge,” he joked.
City have been indebted to the goals of Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, who has found the net 22 times this season and has helped the Robins move four points clear of the bottom three.
“It’s been a really successful loan spell for Tammy and Chelsea will be over the moon with it,” the Head Coach said. “Especially if they stay in the league because they wouldn’t have done it without him.
“He’s been a real threat, whether heavily involved in the game or not he’s scored different types of goals and only enhanced his reputation.”
As the Reds enter the final stages of the season, every game remains of vital importance for the Head Coach as they bid to finish as high as possible.
Reflecting on their recent results and form, he added: “Our last few performances have been good, we’ve been really pleased with performances over the last few weeks, Blackburn was arguably the worst so we know what we have to do and how desperate this time of the season is.
“Things change in an instant, it’s just different when there’s so much more on a game and you have to be prepared for that. We know what we’ll do and how we’ll play, however the situation the opposition find themselves in does make the game different and we have to prepare for that.
“If we’re in front, it’ll be like a cup final and they’ll be throwing everything at you whereas if we’ve behind, there’ll be a lot of tension in the stadium and in the players so everything changes because of the stage of the season we’re at.
“It was nice to see an open game against Brentford, you had two teams going for the win and the style of football changed and lots of our threats could come out, whereas we’ve seen in other games teams have been content to sit behind us it can be difficult.
“You can dominate games and not get the rewards and it only takes one chance to concede and we’ve suffered in lots of areas like that this season and that’s how tough this league is.”
Watch Hecky’s full press conference ahead of this weekend’s clash with Bristol City on Barnsley PlayerHD HERE!
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