Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom is eager to beat Derby County tonight and go on a cup run.
The Reds know just how vital progression in knockout competitions can be after their wins in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy two seasons ago turned their calamitous league campaign into a joyous one.
Barnsley were in the relegation zone at Christmas, before lifting the JPTand getting promoted to the Championship through the play-offs at Wembley.
“I’d love a cup run,” admitted Heckingbottom, pictured, whose side host the Rams in the Carabao Cup second round tonight. “A lot of where we are now has come from our Johnstone’s Paint cup run.
“What a day out that was for everyone. It’s a day that the players involved will never forget.
“You can gain real momentum in these competitions.
“But we just have to focus on one game at a time. I know it sounds really boring but that’s how I see it. I’m focused on trying to beat Derby and then anything else comes after that.”
It could be another trip to Wembley for Barnsley, with Premier League big guns Tottenham Hotspur next up if the Reds overcome the rampant Rams who thrashed Hull 5-0 on Friday night.
Heckingbottom was at that game, but left at the interval.
He said: “I left at half-time. I just walked out.
“I couldn’t watch any of the Hull defending any longer. I thought: ‘This is pointless.’
“If we defend like that then I’ll be swinging for someone.
“Derby are strong, physical and dangerous on the counter.
“I was looking at Gary’s (Rams manager Rowett) squad and he could change all 11 if he wanted, but I’d imagine they’d have the same mentality.”
Reds midfielder Gary Gardner was in hospital in Birmingham yesterday as a precautionary measure after suffering a dead leg at the weekend.
The Aston Villa loanee would be cup tied tonight even if fit for selection.