Preston v Barnsley: Time to get Oakwell new faces right up to speed

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom.
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom.
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A FEW weeks ago, Paul Heckingbottom took it upon himself to issue something resembling a cry for help regarding the need to boost his squad options at Barnsley.

Thankfully, for his and the Reds’ sake, his call has been answered in the affirmative, with the Oakwell board also clearly of the view that fixing the roof when the sun is shining represents a shrewd philosophy.

The club may have been riding high in third spot after an impressive opening month of the Championship campaign which had shown more than enough evidence that Heckingbottom’s side can compete, but, equally, it did not deflect from the need to do some pressing incoming business.

Five first-team additions in the shape of Adam Armstrong, Sam Morsy, Adam Jackson, Cole Kpekawa and Saidy Janko have bolstered Heckingbottom’s options at a timely juncture and beefed up a thin-looking squad, with the Reds head coach certainly far more content with the resources at his disposal than he was a fortnight ago.

With a run of six games in the space of three weeks, those options are likely to be utilised as Heckingbottom ensures that his side stays fresh and is in the best place to cope successfully with the intense and unrelenting grind of Championship football.

Heckingbottom, who has fielded the same line-up in three of Barnsley’s five league fixtures thus far and made minimal changes, said: “I am really happy with the group we have got and the competition for places. Hopefully, we can now tweak it every now and again to keep that energy and intensity which is a big part of our game.

“Hopefully, with the players we have brought in, we can get everyone up to speed and knowing their roles.

“The boys that we have had here for a long time know exactly what we want from them and are doing great at the minute.

“But we want to get everyone else up to speed so that we are in position where we can change the team a little bit to keep the energy and intensity without weakening the side.

“In our minds, that is where we have always wanted to get to, which is a little bit different from last year.”

Heckingbottom has confirmed that contract talks with several key players whose deals expire in the summer have been earmarked to get underway after the Christmas period.

Influential captain Conor Hourihane is among those who is out of contract next summer.