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Hecky: "We Can't Wait For Sunday!"

5 May 2017

Paul Heckingbottom addressed the media at Oakwell today ahead of the Reds final fixture of the 2016/17 season.

The Reds travel north to already-promoted Newcastle United this Sunday for a noon kick-off.

It will be game 46, our final fixture of what has been an admirable first year back in the Championship.

Hecky first gave us an update on his squad regards fitness and injury worries.

He told us: "From the last game, Saidy Janko will be back involved. He was struggling with his back so we gave him a little rest. We're having to be careful with Adam Davies regarding a little niggle in his groin, but he should be fine.

"Adam Hammill, Aidy White and Sessi D'Almeida are all doing well in their respective recoveries but there's no point risking anything with them either. It's about knuckling down and working hard to be ready, like the rest of the lads when we return here for pre-season."

With just one final 90 minutes before the summer break, Hecky admitted that whilst he will miss many facets of his job, he's this year looking forward to relaxing away from football and spending valuable time with his family.

"I'll miss the football" he started. "The matches, training, I'll miss the players. I was one of those players who hated pre-season but even last summer as a coach I wasn't that keen either, because I was just itching to get the games started. 

"But I am having a break this year because I didn't really get one last year. So although I want to get the work done, because there's lots to do, I do need a rest. I know that I need a break.

"My phone will be off. I'm going to spend time with my missus, we're going to New York for a few days and then we're taking the kids away at half-term."

With the season coming to a close, it will soon be time for the Reds Gaffer to release his retained list. 

It will then kick off the many processes involved in replacing any players that leave Oakwell this summer for pastures new.

"I'll be meeting and speaking with the players next week before they head off. We'll sit down and based on the planning we've done we will make our decisions.

"So we're probably looking at late next week for the list. 

"We've got six loanees going back, we've players out of contract so we know we're going to have a hell of a lot of work."

With the title on the line and over 50,000 supporters in attendance at St James' Park this weekend, Heckingbottom is in no doubt that the task of beating Newcastle is a huge one, but hopes the players can once again thrive on the big occasion. 

"It's going to be a great occasion" he stated. "It's great for us to be a part of it. It will be the biggest crowd in the Championship this season I would have thought, and they're playing for the title. 

"It's great. It's going to be a real test for us. There's probably no tougher game for us to go into.

"They were everyone's favourites, biggest squad, most money, great manager and they've got one game left to try and win the league.

"We're not going to get a tougher game than that!"

The Gaffer feels the preparation put in this week in training has set the team in good stead as he looks to see just how far his players have progressed over the course of a whirlwind campaign.

As he explained: "We have to be ready for it. We have to try and use it as a learning curve, it'll be a good marker regards our players and where they're at at the end of this season.

"We've done lots of preparation, lots of work on how to approach the game and the atmosphere too.

"It's going to be a big occasion and it's games like this that the fans will have been relishing too. We've sold out haven't we?

"We can't wait for Sunday!"

You can see Paul's full interview over on Barnsley Player HD!

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