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Hecky: "You can't underestimate a good cup run!"

6 January 2017

Head Coach hopes the Reds can thrive on the excitement and buzz the FA Cup brings with it.

Paul Heckingbottom is relishing the chance to take charge of the Reds for the first time in an FA Cup clash tomorrow as they travel to Blackpool .

Last season, Barnsley were knocked out in the first round of the competition by Non-League outfit Altrincham but enter the competition at its third round stage.

The Reds will head into the weekend on a four-game unbeaten run and have only tasted defeat once in their last seven matches.

He hopes the squad can harness the excitement the FA Cup brings with it as they look to progress into the fourth round.

The FA Cup is the FA Cup,” he said. “It has a different feel and a different excitement to it. Careers have been made off the back of the FA Cup and I told the players yesterday, it’s a whole new audience.

“Cup runs and games against big teams can put you on the map as a player and as a football Club. We’ve experienced it before at Barnsley. 

“It’s great excitement and you want a cup run. We want to ride that cup wave and feel that different buzz and excitement.

“We had a different cup run last season with where it got us but we know the importance of a cup run and the excitement it can generate with the staff, the Club, the town and the fans.

“You can’t underestimate a good cup run, the feel-good factor, creating interest, new fans and a big audience for the players.”

Last season, both sides found themselves at the wrong end of the League One table.

Fast forward 12 months and the Reds are flying high in the Championship while the Tangerines are in League Two, fighting for the play-offs.

Hecky’ feels this may give Blackpool more motivation to look for a scalp against the Reds, but insisted they will have to produce their best performance to get the better of his side. 

This time last year we were similar to them, they have a lot of the same players that we know from last year and I think they are a very dangerous team.

“Their results have been up and down this season but when they’ve played well, they’ve smashed teams and we’ve seen signs of that in the last few games and we know they’re going to be dangerous.

“For them, we have factor in they’re playing a Championship team, although 12 months ago we were exactly the same, similar on points, standing, everything.

“Now, they have a scalp in front of them, they have good players and they’ll be looking to cause an upset.

“Blackpool will know they have to play well against us to beat us, we’ve not come off against anybody in any game yet and the games we have lost teams have had to play well. 

“They’ll have to bring their best game to beat us on Saturday.

“They have pace in behind if they want to play that way or big men up top, ball-playing midfielders who liked to get on the ball so at some stage they’ll be using all sorts.

“I’m sure they’ll go more direct at some point and put long balls into the box but they are a team that looks to play as well.

“They have pace in the side in wide areas and up top and they pose a threat in their own right and 12 months ago they were on a par with us,” he added.

With the transfer window now open, speculation surrounding Reds players has started in the media but Heckingbottom has been aware of this long before the window opens.

“Interest has been there all season, we started the season well and there has been interest in our players from the first couple of the season and I don’t think that’ll change.

“It’ll just get more frantic and hectic in these weeks in January. Some clubs may try and take them away, others may want to see what’s out there, that’s the dilemma we’re in.

“Our form has been that good and some of the players have been playing that well they will be attracting attention and we cannot stop that.

“It means we’ve been doing well, we benefited from it last season, we worked really hard in the second half of the season with the Wembley games and promotion off the back of the players’ form.

“Now we’re feeling the reverse of that, although we’re having good form on the pitch, we’re getting all the attention because five or six of the lads aren’t tied down which is frustrating," Hecky added.

This week, the Reds also extended striker Adam Armstrong’s loan deal at Oakwell until the end of the season.

Armstrong has netted three goals since arriving from Newcastle United in August and Heckingbottom is incredibly happy the forward is staying in South Yorkshire.

“We’re delighted to have got him,” Hecky’ added. “His goal threat and some of the goals he has scored have been excellent.

“We’ve been working hard with him and he’s suffered injuries at the wrong time and Sam [Winnall] and Tom [Bradshaw] have come into the side and done excellently but we’re delighted to have kept him.

“There’s still more to come from Arma’, we’ve told him what we want from him and how hard he needs to work and how he has to use this as a platform.

“We’ve made a really big commitment in keeping him and it shows the player how much we value him and how much we think he can offer us.

“We’ll be pushing him and continue to see the best between now and May."

More good news for the Club came in the form of striker Sam Winnall being awarded the EFL Player of the Month award for December.

The forward netted six goals in December, including a spectacular header in a 4-3 victory against Cardiff City.

Heckingbottom praised the contribution to the side that the striker has made.

He has been part of the group that has done ever so well in the last 12 months and has scored lots of goals and long may that continue. 

“He’s always tended to go in patches and he had a spell of something like 11 goals in 12 games or 11 in 11, he’ll tell me exactly what it was if he was sat here now.

“He goes on runs of goals like that and long may it continue, but other parts he’s got to his game that aren’t spoken about are the roles we give him when we’re defending set plays.

“Everybody has a role when we’ve got the ball and when we haven’t got the ball,” he added.

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Tickets are still available for the Reds' next two home matches against Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. CLICK HERE to buy yours!

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