Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the assembled media at Oakwell today ahead of tomorrow night's FA Cup replay at Oakwell against Blackpool..
The Reds Head Coach first gave an update on the current health of his squad and discussed the possibility of changes to the starting lineup.
He said: “Everything looks alright in terms of fitness. Saidy Janko got 60 minutes in the 23s yesterday which is good. It’s probably a bit early for him on Tuesday night, we have to treat him properly, we don’t want him to break down again.
“Whether we make changes or not we’ll have to wait and see but it’s better to have more bodies available, it’s nice to freshen things up if we can whether that be from the start or bringing players on off the bench.”
Hecky was asked about the FA Cup and how far he felt the Reds could go in the competition but naturally, he stated his focus was purely on the next game.
“I’ve just been doing my notes for the matchday programme on Blackpool so I’m focused only on that for now, it’s about tomorrow night. I can’t be looking any further than that. But it’s definitely a competition that has lots of magic and sparkle to it and of course it can be really rewarding, in terms of finance and momentum, as we saw last year with the JPT.
“We want to win, we want to get through and see how far that takes us but for now we’re just going to take it one game at a time and that’s Blackpool tomorrow night.”
The Reds’ good run of form ended at the weekend as Fulham emerged victorious at Craven Cottage and whilst the Gaffer felt the performance wasn’t good enough to win the game, he believes that key decisions went against the Reds.
He said: “Like I said at the weekend we were second best, but even if you’re playing well you need luck on your side at times to win games, things to go your way. And their (Fulham) first goal was a soft penalty but the infuriating thing that annoyed me was that Tom Cairney dived for a free-kick which then led to the corner.
“The lad had already got away with it once, the referee never pulled him up for diving and that one was even more blatant. And that leads to the corner, the penalty, so it was frustrating. But we didn’t play well enough ourselves to win the game but still, if things don’t go your way then you’ve no chance.”
It’s been a terrific first half of the 2016/17 season for Barnsley and Heckingbottom now feels that business needs to be done if the Reds are to continue to over-achieve. Having lost a few players recently for differing reasons, he believes recruitment is now key.
“We know how well we’ve done so far” he said. “We know where we are. But we’ve got three players missing from the group now, who helped get us up to where we are. Yids (Andy Yiadom) is away in the African Cup of Nations, Sam Morsy has gone back to Wigan and Winnall’s moved to Wednesday. So that’s three down and we don’t carry a big squad. Three of our regular starters gone and they’re the areas we have to strengthen.
“It’s a hard enough job anyway, being a Head Coach or Manager, whatever you want to call it but when you’re having to be doubling or tripling up on other roles as well it’s more difficult. But you have to do it. I want the best for our Club so I work hard to achieve that. So we need more bodies in and if that means I’ve to stay on the phone then so be it. We have to get players in.”
The January transfer window throws up all manner of situations that clubs have to contend with on a day-to-day basis. Hecky reckons that it highlights the ruthless nature of the game.
He explained: “We can’t take the easy way out. Sometimes the toughest decisions are the correct decisions. If people don’t want to be at the Club, or if someone isn’t adding value to the Club then they shouldn’t be here.
“I hope we’re close to getting players in. I really hope so. But it’s been that case for a while. There’s players we’d like to bring in and like I say, the sooner the better.”
In terms of tomorrow night’s FA Cup Third Round replay, the Gaffer is confident that the Reds have what it takes to get past Blackpool but is well aware of the threats they pose and that a repeat performance from the original match wouldn’t be enough.
“I think they’ll be dogged, determined and a real threat against us on the counter, as they were at Bloomfield Road the other week. I think we played into their hands a lot last time, especially first half. We were much better after the break but they remained a threat.
“We need to be much, much better. It’s another big opportunity for the players to impress, to stake their claim and a big chance to get into the next round of the competition.”
Paul Heckingbottom’s full interview from today’s press conference is available to see over on Barnsley Player HD
and on this occasion, our official YouTube
Tickets for tomorrow night’s cup tie are available by clicking THIS