Barnsley’s fringe players challenged to make their mark ahead of JPT Final

Barnsley's caretaker mananger Paul Heckingbottom.
Barnsley's caretaker mananger Paul Heckingbottom.

This weekend presents a massive chance for some of Barnsley’s fringe players to take centre stage.

The Reds have two games in four days over the Easter period and are missing a number of key men through international duty and injury.

And caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom has backed those waiting in the wings to prove their worth ahead of a crucial period in the club’s season.

“It’s a case of people stepping up, staking their claim and trying to stay in the team for the next game,” he said.

“The players know the squad is strong anyway. The fact that someone like Josh Scowen is not in the starting XI shows the hunger and quality of the group.

“They are playing for places not only for Wembley but chasing a play-off spot as well. At the minute everyone is really pleased and happy when we’re getting the results.

“They know they want to be in the team but more importantly they want to be a part of what is turning out to be an exciting season.

“They’ve seen players who haven’t played for a while come back into the side and stay in the side. If someone comes in and plays well they keep their place so it keeps everyone hungry.”

Cup fever has captured Barnsley this week with the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy taking a tour of the town, and the players and coaches making appearances at Primary Schools and shopping centres.

But there is still the matter of two massive league matches in the shape of Scunthorpe and Port Vale before attention can turn to the dream day out at Wembley on Sunday April 3.

And Heckingbottom has praised the way his players have dealt with the distraction.

“Credit to everyone so far that it’s not affected our performances or our focus because you see that all the time,” he added.

“You can’t ban it but what you can do is just put it in its place. At the minute we’ve got two more important games before it.

“After Port Vale the mind can turn and build towards what is a special occasion.”