Grab your chances, Barnsley manager urges academy youngsters

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom. Phot: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom. Phot: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.
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Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom has challenged the club’s academy boys to grab their opportunities when they arise.

A spate of injuries and suspensions saw young duo Josh Kay and Jacob Brown make their debuts before the international break.

Forward Brown signed his first professional deal at the club earlier this month and Heckingbottom wants the players to start forging their way into the first team more consistently.

“If they’re playing well then they’ll be involved and then you’re looking long term,” admitted Heckingbottom, who is committed to developing youngsters at Oakwell.

“My challenge to them and the club, is they need to be in a position next month, six months, 12 months, where we’re not recruiting someone because we know we’ve got someone in the building who can do that job for us.

“That’s their goal. By being involved, performing and training with the first team on a regular basis then they can start to bridge that gap.

“You’re lucky if you get someone who jumps out and grabs it with both hands and is immediately better than a first-team player you’ve got.

“We’re trying to squeeze every little bit out of every little player we’ve got and the young ones are no different.”

Some of the Reds’ most influential players are out of contract at the end of the season - Sam Winnall, Conor Hourihane, Josh Scowen and Aidy White to name a few.

The club would love to tie them down beyond the end of the season before the transfer window reopens in January and Heckingbottom admits talks are ongoing.

He added: “It’s ongoing [contract talks], that’s all I can say really.

“You want to keep all of your best players and to add to them if you can.”

Reds youngster Elliot Kebbie has been handed a two-game trial at Birmingham City.

The 22-year-old right-back came through the ranks at Leeds United, and had trials at Barcelona before signing for Atletico Madrid at the age of 17.

After a serious battle with illness, Epstein-Barr virus, he was in the Class of 92’s Salford City side that got promoted to the National League North last season before signing for the Reds.