Date: 21st February 2018 at 7:19am
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A draw and a defeat in his first two games in charge have not done much to convince the doubters that Paul Heckingbottom was the right choice to take over as manager.

The first 45mins against Bristol City was particularly worrying, but I was certainly glad to see the fight we showed to come back in the match to nearly snatch a late win.

That second half display cannot paper over the cracks of a team whose problems proceeded Hecky`s appointment, but the newly installed boss now has the sole responsibility of reversing our fortunes in the last few months of the season. Here are three things he must sort out if we are to have any chance of reaching the play-offs this campaign.

1) Drop Eunan O`Kane

The Irishman has not had the best of times recently, and many fans would like to see the midfielder drop out of the starting line-up for our match against Derby County tomorrow.

He gave away the penalty against Sheffield United last week which contributed to the new boss getting off to a losing start, and he may want to consider other alternatives in the centre of midfield.

It will be interesting to see what combination of midfielders we will go for at Pride Park with Kalvan Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira also competing with Adam Forshaw for a place in the side.

The shape of the team could also change. With Pablo Hernandez excelling against Bristol City, and with Samu Saiz also lined up for a return after suspension, there are several possible connotations to how the midfield could shape up tomorrow evening.

2) Get the best out of Saiz and Lasogga

Our No.9`s return to form and fitness came at the exact same time as his team mate`s six match suspension.

With the Spaniard now set to return to the first team fold, Heckingbottom must get both players firing on all cylinders simultaneously.

While Lasogga has scored four in his last five for the Whites, you have to go all the way back to November when we faced Barnsley for Saiz`s last goal.

Although goals haven`t been as hard to come by lately for us, we are going to need both of them to be on their game if we are going to go on the sort of run that will get a top six finish.

3) Keep things as tight as possible early on in matches

Liam Cooper`s return to the team could not be more timely. The captain`s sending off against Millwall preceded the flood of goals that we`ve conceded in recent weeks.

The Cooper-Jansson partnership needs to be restored against Derby and hopefully we will begin to see a steadying of the ship defensively. During our eight-match winless run, we have conceded the first goal every time, and if the new manager is going to turn things round quickly, this must stop.

If we can keep things tight early on in games and establish a secure base, we can get a stranglehold on matches, and secure the wins we desperately need.

 

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