Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday: Paul Heckingbottom’s been waiting on this one all season

Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom admitted the Sheffield Wednesday derby is the one he has been looking forward to all season.

The last time the Owls came to Oakwell was back in 2013, and the Reds have not beaten their local rivals home or away since the 2008/09 season - when they did the double.

Despite this, Heckingbottom is adamant his players will thrive from the electric atmosphere from the Reds’ faithful at Oakwell tomorrow.

Heckingbottom knows just the type of pressure his players will be under, having been sent off in his first Reds’ encounter against former club Wednesday during his playing days.

“We’ve have loads of great derbies this year but this is the one most Barnsley fans look out for,” revealed Heckingbottom, who featured in derbies for both Yorkshire sides.

“Wednesday’s only down the road, they’ll fill the whole North Stand and it’ll be bouncing. We have to use that atmosphere to our advantage. We have to make sure it’s as lively and as high tempo and energetic as possible. I feel better when it’s a game like that, I enjoy it more, and I know our players do. For some it’ll be their first against Wednesday and I’m sure they’ll love it.”

Barnsley's Adam Hammill is sent off in the South Yorkshire derby game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough

Barnsley's Adam Hammill is sent off in the South Yorkshire derby game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough

Wednesday are currently occupying the sixth and final play-off spot.

And Heckingbottom knows his side are coming up against one of the stronger outfits in the second tier.

He added: “We know they’re a good side, they’ve got some good players coming back from injury.

“We’ll have to be prepared for that and we have to be prepared to impose ourselves on them because we’ve got good players.

“They’ve had good runs of form and bad runs of form and then some patches where it’s been up and down.

“Everyone’s looking for that consistency and if you ask any of the coaching staff at Wednesday they’d probably say they should have more points.”

It is the first time Sam Winnall will return to Oakwell since jumping ship for quadruple his wages in January.

Heckingbottom is certain his former goal machine will play, but insisted the Reds know him inside out.

He stated: “I would have thought he’s playing. Coming back to his old club I’d have thought Carlos plays him. If Carlos doesn’t play him he’ll be disappointed and that’s what I do know about him. There’s not too much Sam can do that we don’t know about so that’s fine.”

Adam Hammill admitted he had an extra reason to play well tomorrow.

“For me on a personal level there’s extra incentive for me,” he said.

“Obviously in the last game against them I was sent off and don’t think it was warranted. So that adds fuel to the fire.

In games like this, fans want to see the challenges, the flair and it all adds spice to the proceedings.”