Heckingbottom full of praise for Barnsley’s miserly defence

Barnsley's Marc Roberts.
Barnsley's Marc Roberts.
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Caretaker Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom has lauded his rock-solid defence, praising the platform they provide for positive results.

The Reds’ back line have kept seven clean sheets in their last 11 league matches, losing just twice in that time and powering their way into the play-offs with two games to play.

And although Heckingbottom, a former full-back himself, recognises that clean sheets come from a team contribution, he has commended his defence in particular.

“The whole team is defending great but when you’re keeping clean sheets the emphasis is going to be on the back four,” he said.

“George Williams is playing left-back instead of right-back, Josh Scowen is playing right-back instead of midfield. They’ve been superb and that’s what a lot of our success has been built on.

“We’ve suffered a lot of adversity in terms of players missing for different reasons but everybody plays a part, everybody gives everything and credit to them.

“Not many teams can get success when you’ve got so many people playing out of position but these boys love it, they thrive on it and we’ll keep trying to reward them for it because that’s the sort of mentality we want to promote.”

Barnsley’s centre-back pairing of Alfie Mawson and Marc Roberts were untried and untested before this season.

Mawson was a promising emerging talent at Brentford, whilst Roberts stepped up two divisions after joining from Halifax in the summer.

But they have formed a firm partnership, keeping the experienced Lewin Nyatanga out of the starting line-up.

And Heckingbottom reckons Roberts, 24, has improved considerably coming to the club.

“Robbo has come on a hell of a lot,” added Heckingbottom. “He’s been working hard on his game, that’s why.

“It’s just little bits, we’ve not overloaded him with information but key little things within his game and he’s gone and worked at them, not only on his own but in training sessions as well.

“So we can focus his attention on little details that he needs to get better at.

“Players have the opportunity to practice every day and it’s focusing their mind on what’s important to them.

“Once they know how to learn themselves and get better themselves they’re going to achieve their full potential and Robbo is on the way to doing that now.”