Barnsley: Ipswich Town opener will be a good marker for Reds

Paul Heckingbottom.
Barnsley FC v Hull City

Paul Heckingbottom. Barnsley FC v Hull City

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Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom believes Ipswich will be a great test to see whether his side are up to the challenge of the Championship.

The Reds’ return to the second tier of English football gets underway tomorrow with a trip to Portman Road.

Portman Road has not been the best hunting ground for the club, with just two victories there since 1960.

Heckingbottom will be met in the dug-out by fellow local lad Mick McCarthy – who started his senior career with the Reds.

And the Barnsley boss knows his side are in for a real tough test.

“They’re really competitive and I’m sure they’ll be up there again,” said Heckingbottom.

“They’ve got a similar squad to last season and will play in a similar way.

“It’s a great sort of benchmark for us is terms of what the Championship is all about going to an established Championship team who have performed really well at this level in the past.

“They’ve always been there or there abouts competing for the play-offs so we’ll get a real good gauge at where we’re at.”

Newest acquisition Angus MacDonald is the only player unavailable for selection with a suspension carried over from last season.

Otherwise Heckingbottom has a full-strength side to choose from after Adam Davies and James Bree returned to training yesterday after slight hamstring niggles.

Despite already adding eight summer signings to his double-winning side Heckingbottom is still looking to bring in more players before the transfer window closes.

The new Football League system have scrapped the emergency loan window meaning teams will have to make do with what they have got if serious injuries or suspensions occur and

Heckingbottom realises the need to have strength in depth across the board.

“If we leave ourselves light, one suspension or one injury could cost us valuable points come the end of the season,” he admitted.

“The big difference is we’ve gone up a league and it’s going to be a lot tougher for every single player.

“We can’t afford to carry anyone at 80 or 90 per cent fitness this season because we won’t get away with it.

“We need to make sure there are enough bodies in to strengthen the group as and when.”

The club are waiting on international clearance in order to make Sessi D’Almeida a Barnsley boy.

The Benin international has impressed whilst on trial with the club with a deal all but done.