Rotherham United boss Paul Warne has hailed his players as being ‘a credit to the club’ in their commitment to maintaining fitness over the course of the UK lockdown as a return to match action draws ever closer.
The first team are currently enjoying a week away from their Roundwood training base having been put through their paces with some rigorous pre-season testing since their return at the end of June, with additional countless hours of fitness work being recorded from home since football was suspended back in March.
Warne, who prides himself on the athleticism of his group anyway, says his players have exceeded his high expectations as he and his staff prepare even more gruelling sessions as they eagerly anticipate another tilt at the Sky Bet Championship.
“We haven’t played a game since March but I cannot express how pleased I am with the condition in which my players returned to training following the lockdown,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“I knew that I had assembled a group that have a great amount of drive, but they have been a credit to themselves and the football club in the way that they have looked after themselves prior to our return.
Early indications suggested that the 2020/21 campaign could begin at the end of August but it now appears that date has been pushed back somewhat, meaning the first team staff have had to temper their pre-season preparations to allow for the later kick off.
“As it turns out, the lads have come back too early for a ‘proper’ pre-season programme, but from a coaching point of view it has been great to see where the lads are at,” Warne continued.
“Of course, we’ve been in touch with everyone via Zoom video meetings and we have tracked their efforts from afar on Strava, so it isn’t like we haven’t kept tabs on them at all, but to physically see them in front of us tells a very different story to the quantitative information we can take from home.
“Everyone has exceeded our expectations on their return to training and even the old man Woody looks like he’s rolled his age back by five years. Mickel Miller has quite literally hit the ground running and has impressed all of the coaches with his early efforts, to a point whereby there is an ongoing joke with Cheio about him taking his crown in that department.”
There has been more good news to report on the injury front with defensive pair Michael Ihiekwe and Clark Robertson making significant progress in their rehabilitation with Warne explaining that both are nearing a return to full training.
“We’ve had chance to take a look at the progress of Icky and Robbo which has been another positive that has come about by having the players in,” he added.
“Both are looking fit and healthy and I expect them to be a part of the group in full training when we’re back after this short break.
“In addition to that, despite some tough sessions over the last couple of weeks, we haven’t picked up any new injuries. That again, speaks volumes about the physical resilience that the lads have built up over lockdown.”
Warne recently revealed that another defender, Curtis Tilt, is set for a spell on the sidelines following an operation, but having spoken with the medical team, the Millers boss is pleased with his efforts to return to full fitness.
“Curtis Tilt is unfortunately on the treatment table at the moment, but he is working hard in his rehabilitation and is continuing to receive advice and attention from the medical team despite the rest of the squad’s absence from the training ground.”