Paul Heckingbottom wants to keep Barnsley job

Paul Heckingbottom in his Barnsley playng days.
Paul Heckingbottom in his Barnsley playng days.

Barnsley-born Paul Heckingbottom wants to be the permanent successor to Lee Johnson at Oakwell.

The former Scarborough, Bradford City and Sheffield Wednesday left-back - who also played for his hometown club in a career which started at Manchester United - has taken caretaker charge of Barnsley with fellow coach Tommy Wright after Johnson quit for Bristol City.

Their first game in charge was Sunday’s win over Bury - a seventh consecutive victory in League One - and the club have also reached Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Nothing would make Heckingbottom prouder than leading the Tykes out at Wembley as Barnsley’s new permanent manager.

Asked if he would like the job on a full-time basis, Heckingbottom said: “I would love to. I am a Barnsley boy, season-ticket holder, turned down offers to come and play for the club.

“I turned down coaching jobs to coach at the club, so of course I would (take the job), i love the club.

“I have enjoyed it, but not really had time to think about it. Everything has happened so quickly. I am going to keep enjoying it for as long as I am doing it.

“It would be nice (to get the job permanently), just as long as we are asked,” said the 38-year-old.

“We just need to keep doing the job, giving my best, working with the players and nothing has changed. Just probably making different decisions, to what I was previously.

“In terms of work ethic and how I approach it, it’s the same as all the time I have been at the club.”

Barnsley travel to Gillingham on Saturday, when their winning streak will be sorely tested.

The Reds are five points adrift of the play-offs, on 42 points, while the Gills are in fourth spot on 55 points.

“The lads have two things to play for,” Heckingbottom said. “We’re chasing the trophy at Wembley which is massive and keeps everyone hungry.

“They have to keep their standards high to get in the team for Wembley, but looking beyond that we would love to still be in the hunt and chasing the final play-off spots. There’s a lot to play for, this is the reason the play-offs were brought in.

“We’ve got big challenges ahead but it’s what everyone wants. It’s come through everyone approaching every game trying to win it. We’ve told the players to keep Wembley out their minds and we’re working towards Gillingham.”