With their relegation from the top-flight being mathematically confirmed earlier this month, United travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday hoping to secure only their sixth victory in the competition so far this term.
With the fifth coming four days ago, when Brighton and Hove Albion were beaten 1-0 at Bramall Lane, Heckingbottom said: “It’s important we enjoy ourselves over these last few weeks. We’re taking everything seriously, as you would expect, because we are representing this football club and the fans.
“But I also want the players to enjoy themselves, to play with a smile on their faces and show what they can do. Because for some, this might be the ;ast time they play at this level. Or it might be a long time before they get back again. You just never know in football, although we are obviously doing everything we possibly can to try and make sure we bounce straight back. But you just can’t afford to take anything for granted.”
"It’s just as important now as before,” Heckingbottom added. “Just for different reasons than at the start of the season.”
David McGoldrick, who scored the only goal of the night against Grahan Potter’s side, issued his team mates with similar instructions before they began preparing for the trip to London. Noting how the centre-forward had urged them to re-enter the Championship with real momentum, Heckingbottom described McGoldrick as a “quiet leader” in the dressing room.
“Winning is a good habit to be in and we want to get back into that habit as quickly as possible,” Heckingbottom said. “There’s plenty still at stake, and that includes how this football club is perceived by others.
“We know the fight inside the camp. So it was great to see the players demonstrate that publicly last time out. I thought that spoke volumes, and they looked as if they enjoyed themselves too.”