Norwich City test is a red letter day for Barnsley’s Paul Heckingbottom

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom guided his hometown club to League One promotion at Wembley.

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom guided his hometown club to League One promotion at Wembley. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom admits a chance to face his old club was one of the first Championship fixtures he looked out for after guiding the Reds to play-off success at Wembley.

Heckingbottom made 16 appearances for the Canaries during a well-travelled playing career, but the 39-year-old is now making waves as a young coach at his hometown club after guiding Barnsley to promotion last season. The Reds' chief is braced for a stiff test against Alex Neil's squad on Saturday after City notched a resounding 5-0 home win against Brentford.

'I'm expecting similar to what they did against Brentford,' he said. 'Alex made five or six changes from the Derby game which I went down and watched and the performance was totally different. I thought they were good against Derby and the game could have gone either way, but they were far better against Brentford, they scored their goals at good times and were really good with the ball. Apart from five league defeats in a row they've been strong all the time, so they'll be hoping they've had their bad performances and bad results all in one patch.

'But it was a reminder for me as to how good a squad they have got, when they make changes and still get a big win and a big performance. A couple of those players I forgot were down there so it shows they have competition in every position and they are well equipped to challenge to get back up. The majority of the players have been successful in this level before, players with Premier League experience, never mind Championship experience. It's a good game for us and a big test.

'It was one of the fixtures we looked for when we got promoted. We knew they were one of the bigger clubs and it's one of the games we've been looking forward to. But we know we're capable – if we have a run of games of picking up positive results, we can start competing and we can surprise even more teams and that has to be our aim just to do as well as we can.'


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