Paul Heckingbottom is hoping another Yorkshire derby win can lift any gloom hanging over Barnsley this week.
The Reds are just four points off the play-offs – and neighbours Sheffield Wednesday, who do not play today – ahead of today’s trip to Rotherham United. Barnsley beat Leeds United 3-2 last week, but off-the-field issues have seen Sam Winnall, James Bree and Conor Hourihane leave the club.
The latter pair joined Aston Villa this week, but Heckingbottom is adamant the sales will not wreck Barnsley’s season.
Midfielders Alex Mowatt – from Leeds – and Leicester City’s Matty James have arrived to fill Hourihane’s boots as Heckingbottom looks to complete back-to-back Yorkshire derby wins.
“They are picking up some good results under Paul (Warne), and they can certainly be dangerous,” said Heckingbottom. “They have shown that in lots of games.
“We know their threats, they are working extremely hard, and playing for their new manager.
“It’s another Yorkshire derby, and a good atmosphere. We loved it here last week, all the players were talking about it, they felt the energy from the crowd.
“Hopefully we can produce a similar performance.”
Heckingbottom is pragmatic over losing three of his best players in the January transfer window, believing Barnsley have been “victims” of their own success.
“The rise we have had, in a short space of time, everybody is looking at why Barnsley are doing well, and watching us, we know that,” he said. “On my part there is no panic, we know where we are and I know what my job is.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing because I would love to have that team together, and add to them, and I have said to the board and the owners that’s what we have to aim for. We can’t be happy where we are now.”
“There is a way to get even better, a way to break in the play-offs, and compete with the likes of Newcastle, Brighton and Norwich.
“But we are not there yet, and we have to start again. But even in my short term of doing the job, the turnover of players has been huge.
“People forget that, you always lose players and need to find the next ones.”