Barnsley: Heckingbottom relishing Reds’ play-off pressure

Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom

Caretaker Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom is just happy to be in the mix at this stage of the season.

Since taking over in February, the 38-year-old has led his home-town club to within touching distance of a play-off spot.

There are just five games to go as the race for the top six hots up, with the Reds sitting three points behind Gillingham who occupy the final play-off place.

“You just have to be in the thick of it,”Heckingbottom said ahead of today’s trip to Burton Albion.

“At this time of the season, you have to have something to play for.

“I’d hate to be stood on the sideline winning a game but not having the same buzz you would if it mattered.

“Everyone has that edge to their daily work and that little bit of excitement come the next game-day, and we need to keep that as long as possible.”

Burton sit second in League One but are without a win in their last four games.

The division’s surprise package are still five points ahead of the chasing pack, and Heckingbottom acknowledged their qualities as the Brewers bid to clinch automatic promotion.

“They’re a very good team when they get in front so we know its going to be a tough game,” he said.

“They like to press high tempo and they’re a real high-energy team. They’re organised and they’re really disciplined in the way they try to win the ball back.”

Barnsley will be without young full-back James Bree, who has suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury which kept him out for much of March.

George Williams is expected to step in, with winger Adam Hammill fit to play despite hobbling off with cramp last time out against Oldham.

“There are a few players who need wrapping up in cotton wool now because we’ve got another Saturday and Tuesday run coming up,” said Heckingbottom.

“It’s just the nature of the games and the amount of effort the players are putting in.

“We’re desperate to win so they’re giving everything.”