Head Coach calls on the Reds to maintain their current form as they continue their play-off push.
Barnsley Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom insists the Reds must continue to believe in what they do in order to continue competing with other teams in the division.
The Reds’ upcoming five fixtures will see them take on four of the top eight but Heckingbottom is not worried by the tough run of fixtures, starting this weekend against Reading.
If Barnsley can remain in the hunt for the play-off places after this run of fixtures, Hecky said he would be thrilled and hopes their away form will continue to serve them well during this time.
“I’d be delighted,” he said. “For me, it shows that we’re picking up points against teams above us, teams who like I said, we know their resources and budgets are different, the players that they recruit and where they recruit them from are totally different.
“We believe in what we do and we’ve shown we can make it work and that would be another tick in the box that we are on the right lines and that if we want to improve, how do we change it because we can’t just be forever on the coattails, we want to be in amongst them.
“People ask how do Barnsley play away so people do consider it but it makes our job harder when we do play away, but we have to get used to it.
“We noticed it here after a few months when teams were coming and sitting behind the ball, we have to take it as what it is, which is a complement, but we have to adjust again and be even better.”
Two defeats in the last eight games on the road have given the Reds excellent form on their travels. Five clean sheets to boot have been a massive boost for the Reds as well.
He understands that the match will be another difficult one, but thinks the Reds’ away form could stand them in good stead.
“People are saying what are we doing differently and a manager asked me and I said I keep it simple for the players. Everybody knows their roles and it’s probably more what the home teams are doing against us than what we’re doing against them.
“Reading are a good side, I enjoyed watching them. The sending off sort of changed the game here, we were pushing but I thought they defended fantastically well and deserved the win.
“Straight after the game, I know it sounds strange, but I was already thinking about playing them away. They were a bit different and I like how Jaap Stam has got them playing, the players that they’ve got, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“It’s a fixture I’ve been looking for and thinking about them and how what they do differently and how they like to set up the team and how we’ll try and win the game,” he added.
Andy Yiadom is set to be included in the Reds squad this weekend following his return to the side after representing Ghana at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon.
Adam Jackson however, is not likely to be a part of the squad after being taken ill, with fears he may have caught what Ryan Williams had earlier in the week.
The Head Coach gave an update on his team news, saying, “It’s the same as injury wise. Ryan Williams who was off ill is back in training but Adam Jackson’s now off with the same thing. We thought it was food poisoning but we may have something going round, so we have to keep an eye on him and keep him away, especially when you have small numbers.
“Yids should be back in today, he’s done a lot of travelling and that’s what they had to do after his game over the weekend. They all had to fly back to Ghana before then departing from Ghana back here, so he’s done a lot of travelling but he’ll be training with us today and back in the squad.
“He played two games which is ideal for us, the last of which was last weekend so we know he’s had probably just about the right amount of football. It’s just a case of assessing him in the next couple of days.
“Aidy has had the operation and everyone was happy with it, but it’s early stages so his recovery starts now. We just hope he draws a line under it and puts things right. He's had such a chronic problem we’re not going to put pressure on him. We’re going to take it stage by stage as each phase of his recovery is completed and he feels comfortable to move on then we’ll do it.”
This week marked one year since Heckingbottom took charge of the Reds and what a year it has been for the Head Coach.
He has guided the Reds to promotion and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy as well as ninth place in the Championship table.
The rise that the football club has experienced has been meteoric for the Club and Hecky reflected on what has been a whirlwind first year in charge of the Club.
“The best way to sum it up is that I missed a holiday off the back of it because we ended up getting in the play-offs and I think I booked it when we were bottom of the league.
“That sums it up, it has been some sort of rise for the Football Club but I think along the way we understand what we did well and it’s a case now of trying to replicate that again and build on it to become even stronger.
“It wasn’t preparing myself for it, I know lots of my friends will like to manage so a lot of their preparations are about trying to prepare themselves for when they do it but I wasn’t, but all my preparation was about coaching.
“The more I think about it when I look back, my frustrations were always things that limited what I could do in terms of management from above, so when I look back, I probably was always not going to be satisfied unless I was in charge of something and I’m still the same now.
“It’s easy to see that I was heading on that route. When I got the Under 18s role, that was my dream job, but your frustrations unless you’re in charge of something, you can’t really improve things, you can only look after your little bit.
“It’s only this season where it’s been sinking in because people speak to me differently when I’m out and about in Town which is different.
“It’s nice and I have to understand why but I don’t necessarily like it because I can’t get away from anything, I understand why and I see it as part of my job and it’s because of the success and I know that.
“But when I go home, it’s not something I think about and it is strange to me. I’ve just been told about that tattoo that some guy has had and I’m thinking what’s going off here!
“It is surreal and I think for me to be able to cope with it and understand it, I have to think about it and why this is happening is because of what we’ve done and my affiliation with the Club has probably made me come across differently to the Barnsley fans,” he added.
The Reds head into this weekend’s match in ninth place in the Championship table, four points outside the play-off places with a third of the season remaining.
Hecky however was keen to insist where the Reds are in the table is not concerning him and that the tough run of fixtures coming up for the Club is a chance for them to once again prove themselves.
He said, “Positions are absolutely irrelevant, it’s about the next game which is Reading, Villa and they’re coming thick and fast and they’re tough games and that’s what we prepare for.
“There’s no point setting goals above that because one, you’re limiting yourself and two, you’re disappointing if you don’t get there, we just do the next game and try to do that.”
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