Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom is adamant his players will thrive on the atmosphere at Newcastle United on Sunday.
The Magpies need Brighton to slip up - and get at least a point themselves - to win the title, and although the Reds have nothing but pride to play for they will be up for it.
It is an expected sell out, with over 50,000 people awaiting the Yorkshiremen - who played in grounds which hold less than 6,000 supporters in League One last term. “We thrive in games like these,” insisted the coach. “It’s a great occasion and event for us to be a part of. It’ll be the biggest crowd of the season and they’re playing for the Championship.
“It’ll be a real test for us, there’s probably no tougher game to go into. They were everyone’s favourites; biggest squad, most money and they’ve got one game to try and win the league so we’ve not had a tougher game this season.”
Adam Armstrong has returned to the North-East club from Oakwell, whilst Adam Hammill will not be risked for the last game of the season.
Celtic loanee Saidy Janko has overcome a back niggle to be included, whilst goalkeeper Adam Davies is expected to travel despite an issue with his groin.
With the Reds heading into a summer of rebuild, Heckingbottom is interested to see how the players that will be at Oakwell next season handle the atmosphere at St James’ Park this afternoon.
The head coach, who led the Reds to double Johnstone Paint Trophy and play-off glory last season, added: “The biggest thing for me will be to see how the players are in that atmosphere.
“People always say ‘you don’t play the occasion, you play the game’, but we’ve got to be ready for the occasion.”
He added: “It’s going to affect the game, what are the crowd of 50,000 going to be like if they score first, or what are they going to be like if we score first.
“It’ll be good for me to see the players in an atmosphere like that and see how they react to it, especially the ones we’ve got next year.
“Hopefully they raise their game for it and it’s just going to be good for us to be a part of.
“There will be changes in the game, ebbs and flows. I’d have thought he [Rafa Benitez] would have different tactics for different scenarios and what ifs.”