Barnsley v QPR: Promoted Reds already have of '˜belonging' feeling

BARNSLEY may only be two games into the new Championship season, but Paul Heckingbottom has seen enough to ascertain one key thing.

Barnsley manager, Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Namely, that his Reds side should not feel inferior to any side at this level, with another team who were residing in the top flight in the not-too-distant past in Queens Park Rangers next up at Oakwell.

Head coach Heckingbottom insists he has already seen enough in matches against Ipswich Town and Derby County to be confident that his side can continue to hold their own.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

On the task facing Barnsley, seeking back-to-back home wins at this level tonight for the first time since March, 2014, he said: “The games have confirmed that our players are good enough and they belong here and are enjoying it and will enjoy the big games.

“It is definitely a step up in level and, in an instant, a game can change with a goal. But we executed our game plan and the players performed really well on Saturday and scored at key times and then were really strong defensively.

“We are going to have to scrap in every game and in some, we might come up short. But we then have to be ready in the following week to win the next one and I think that is the type of season it is going to be.

“It is one where we know we are going to have to give everything. Sometimes it is going to be good enough, sometimes it is not. But we have to keep striving to get better and then, hopefully, we will have more good games than bad.”

Reds owner Patrick Cryne admits that the cards have fallen into place for the club following their calculated ‘risk’ in inserting a 15 per cent sell-on clause in the £2.25m deal which saw John Stones move to Everton in January, 2013.

Following Stones’s recent big-money switch to Manchester City for £47.5m, the Reds will receive almost £7m and while some fans felt that the initial £2.25m fee for the defender was well below his value, the overall package has worked firmly in the club’s favour.

Cryne said: “It fell for us in the sense that John went on and developed and established himself in the Everton side and got his England opportunity and attracted the interest of some of the top managers in the world.

“In that perspective, it went well for us. But it will not always happen like that. Sometimes we will take a risk and it will not come off.”

Heckingbottom has no fresh injury worries ahead of tonight.

Last six games: Barnsley WWWLLW; QPR DLWWWW.

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).

Last time: Barnsley 2 QPR 3, May 3, 2014; Championship.