Reds boss keen to pass on play-off wisdom to his players
Caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom is keen to impart all of his play-off know-how on his players as Barnsley's bid for a return to the Championship kicks off this afternoon.
Only a handful of the current crop of Reds stars have experienced the end of season showdown before, but former full-back Heckingbottom has been through plenty.
And his job this week has not only involved preparing the team tactically, but also what to expect mentally from the rigours of such high pressure matches.
“We had a look and went through who had been in the play-offs and I think we had four,” said Heckingbottom, whose side take on Walsall in the first leg of the play-off semi-final today.
“I’ve done four on my own this is my fifth. I’ve done the lot in terms of losing in the semi-final, losing in a Wembley final and winning two play-off finals.
“I’ve loved every one and I’m a massive fan of the play-offs, so I’m trying to get that message across to try and get everyone to enjoy it.
“We’re trying hard to embrace the uniqueness of the play-offs and how different they are, and we’re trying to enjoy the experience and enjoy the big games.
“You’re building for big games, there’s no point playing if you don’t want to do that. You try and acclimatise and get used to playing in big games so no-one freezes and everyone can perform.”
Oakwell will be packed to the rafters come teatime today, with Walsall allowed to bring up to 4,000 away supporters to add to the atmosphere.
The box office has done a roaring trade since the Reds’ place in the play-offs was guaranteed, and Heckingbottom admitted the staff are just as excited as the supporters
“I cannot wait,” he confessed. “The staff are more excited than the players at the minute.
“The atmosphere at Wigan on Sunday was fantastic. Our support was superb and Gary Caldwell (Wigan manager) said after the game he couldn’t remember it like that even in the Premier League.
“So the players must have enjoyed it and hopefully we can replicate something similar here, and take our noisy away fans back down to Walsall on Thursday and make for another great atmosphere.”
Barnsley have no new injury worries to deal with, and could be boosted by the return of full-back Aidy White who is in contention for a place on the bench.