Paul Heckingbottom addressed the media ahead of the South Yorkshire derby on Saturday.
The Head Coach started by giving team news ahead of the match this weekend.
He said, “We’re alright, Gethin Jones has been poorly all week which is a blow, we’re trying to get him back in today and see how he is. Callum Elder and Callum Evans are both coming along with their thigh and hamstring injuries, but it will be too early for those.
“Aidy White is obviously ongoing and we have to work on him mentally as well as physically, while Sessi is close to joining non-contact sessions with the Under 23s but is progressing well. I’d love to know my team now because then we can be working even harder these next couple of days, then you just alter it a bit and cover all the bases.”
The Reds had both Tom Bradshaw and Adam Armstrong away on international duty over the break so Hecky gave an update upon their return to training at Oakwell.
“Bradders came back OK, Adam Armstrong will be back in tomorrow because he got back late last night, he’s been involved in three games and lots of training sessions so it’s important we let him relax and prepare for Saturday.
“We did things the opposite to the last few international breaks, we gave them more time off at the front and started working towards this game, a lot of tactical work because we won’t get another chance to do that.
“We have seven games this month and the final game at Newcastle, really it’s the last opportunity where you can build things in training over a long period of time, which hopefully will stand us in good stead over the last eight games.”
During the international break, defender Angus MacDonald extended his stay until the summer of 2019. Hecky expressed his pleasure at the centre-back penning the new deal at Oakwell.
“He’s done well, he was attracting interest and from a football point of view, it’s pleasing because you want to tie your best players down and from a business point of view, it’s pleasing for the Club.
“They’ve got a player who people are interested in and it’s good all round. He’s been unlucky recently, the one he slid in at QPR he’s trying to get back, but if the forward gets there we’re asking questions.
“But he’s been working hard. He’s added a lot since he;s been here but from my point of view there’s still a lot more to add. He’s not the finished player yet.
“Marc and Angus know each other from England C and non-league. It helps with confidence when you see someone who has been there and done it, and is making the same progression.
“There’s Jacko (Adam Jackson) there as well and he I think has the most clean sheets out of any of them, but I’m pleased with all three and any combination of them and they all look comfortable together.”
Barnsley haven’t met South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday since the 2013/14 season at Oakwell, which saw the match finish in a 1-1 draw. Because it has been a few years, the Reds Head Coach was asked if the match is eagerly anticipated in the area.
“It is, I can’t remember last one here but this is the one that most Barnsley fans look out for, Wednesday are just down the road and we’ll fill the whole Ponty End and it’ll be bouncing. We have to use that atmosphere to our advantage, we have to make sure it’s as lively and high-tempo and energetic as possible and enjoy the game.
“I feel better when it’s a game like that, I enjoy it more and the players do as well and we’ll use that atmosphere to our advantage. In the last game, Adam (Hammill) came on as a sub at Hillsborough and he was doing great until he got sent off so I’m sure he’s looking forward to the game, as all the players are. For some it will be their first, Adam has probably experienced more than most and can pass that onto the players.”
The South Yorkshire derby matches are always one of the first fixtures fans will look for when they are released at the start of the season. Hecky knows the rivalry all too well and is looking forward to an electric Oakwell atmosphere.
“It’s a one-off game and it’s different. If we were in Wednesday’s position you’d be looking at the bigger picture and all that matters is where we are come May.
“But we’re not, this is just a one-off game, the atmosphere will be great, it’s a full house and we’re playing against a team who have spent a lot of money and are fighting for the play-offs. The atmosphere will be great in a full house, we have a lot of fight left in us ourselves. It deserves to be the biggest one of the season.”
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