Barnsley: Places still up for grabs for league opener, says Reds boss Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom.
Barnsley FC
Paul Heckingbottom. Barnsley FC

Head coach Paul Heckingbottom has challenged his Barnsley boys to cement their spots in the side ahead of their upcoming Championship campaign.

The Reds manager says shirts are still up for grabs for their league opener against Ipswich at Portman Road next Saturday - and the last chance for the players to stake their claim comes against League One outfit Peterborough United this afternoon.

Heckingbottom’s side have lost just once in pre-season, against Everton, and the Reds boss said: “Every single position is still up for grabs, we’ve got one friendly to go.

“Pre-season is false. No matter how well we’ve competed, it’s about whether can we see progression and us learning. That’s what it’s about now and getting us sharp for the season opener.

“It’s about seeing whether the players here last year can take it one step further, or the new guys coming in and taking the information on board.

“You’re always guessing with pre-season, you set targets and fitness levels but that’s as far as we can go.

“For me, pre-season is in the way a bit and I want to go out and win league games, they are our priority now.

“We have one more game to go and then the real test begins.”

Heckingbottom has added eight summer signings to his squad, including Liverpool academy product Ryan Kent - who arrived on loan at Oakwell earlier this week.

The Reds are rumoured to be targeting more centre-half cover but Heckingbottom is happy with his squad - although he’s always on the lookout for quality players.

“I’m not expecting anything but we’re always looking,” said Heckingbottom.

“We’re always trying to improve.

“We’ve got three good centre backs with lots of experience and Lewin Nyatanga has a lot of Championship experience.

“We’re looking everywhere because we don’t want to miss someone, that’s the thing.

“Something could come out of nowhere and you want to have your finger on the pulse.”