Rotherham United assistant manager Richie Barker was on iFollow Millers press duty today, ahead of the Millers' Sky Bet Championship meeting with Luton Town on Wednesday night.
The Millers will be looking to build on their 3-0 South Yorkshire derby success with another positive result at AESSEAL New York Stadium when Nathan Jones brings his side to Rotherham.
On the agenda for Barker were topics including the latest team news, the threat posed by the Hatters and his assessment of the 2020/21 campaign so far.
Barker on the side’s performance at Stoke City last Saturday…
“Arguably, I think we played a little bit better than we thought we did. Obviously we’re disappointed with the goal we conceded and it was little things in the final third that let us down.
“Having said that, a lot of the things we did were really positive. We came away saying we probably should have drawn the game 0-0, which would have been a positive result for us. Actually, we’ve watched it back and on reflection we should have won the game, which makes it more frustrating.
“I think the lads are getting used to the level a little bit more now and for some of the players they are growing in confidence and understanding of the level really, so that’s really positive.”
Barker on the start to the 2020/21 season…
"We believe that we should have more points on the board and that we could be midtable at a minimum right now. The late goals against us goes without saying, plus the four incidents that went against us at Norwich and maybe we haven’t been as ruthless as we could have been.
"Naturally I think the players are disappointed by that, but I think that is a good thing. We don’t want the lads to think just because we’re not in the relegation zone that it’s job done, we’re pleased the players are constantly pushing for better."
Barker on whether the Millers are better equipped for Sky Bet Championship football this time…
"The players who were here last time we were at this level have definitely learned from their time in the division and the ones who are new to it are starting to find their feet and understand what the second tier is all about.
"We are, again, even more organised and fitter than we were before, as a group of staff and players we are constantly trying to learn from what has happened previously. Hopefully we’re better equipped this time around and achieve our aims this year."
Barker on competition for places and the importance of the squad…
"We’re going to need everybody this season, we have a lot of games over December and January. We’ve said to the players numerous times that there will be opportunities for them to play.
"I’m sure that the likes of Vass (Kyle Vassell), Trev (Trevor Clarke) and Thommo (Adam Thompson) are disappointed they haven’t featured as much as they’ve liked so far and are all working hard behind the scenes.
"We can only get 11 players on the pitch and seven on the bench, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any opportunities going forward because we’re going to need the whole squad."
Barker on the news of a second national lockdown…
"Sport is very important to the mental wellbeing of people. It gives them a reason to get up in the morning and enjoy mixing with their friends and following their team.
"I think that over the next month, everyone will find it difficult, so if we can put smiles on a few people’s faces who watch the match then we would love to do our bit.
"Fortunately, we are lucky enough to be able to continue doing what we’re doing and work, like I say hopefully we can do our bit and put smiles on people’s faces.
"It’s going to be a difficult time for everyone, but what is most important is that people continue to stay safe."
Barker on the injury Shaun MacDonald picked up against Stoke City…
"I think initially he was panicking on the initial injury. We thought he’d be able to carry on, but we were going to make a change in the middle anyway so that made it an easy decision to take him off as a precaution.
"We need everybody to be at 100%, so it was a bit of a no brainer to take him off. He didn’t train today and we’ll know more information on him tomorrow."
Barker on team news ahead of Luton Town test…
"In fairness to the lads they buy into the training schedule. It’s tough on Wednesdays because you end up training throughout the week, whereas when you play on a Tuesday you can give them a rest day on the Wednesday.
"I’ve spoken to numerous coaches and managers in the Championship and they all agree that it is crucial to keep players fresh with the hectic fixture schedule. In fairness to the lads they come in and get on with it and we’re already starting our preparation for Luton."
Barker on how Chieo Ogbene and Clark Robertson are getting on following their injuries…
"I think once you get told it’s months rather than weeks you can start to take it one week at a time really. They’ve been told how long it will be and doing everything to get back at that time.
"On the flip side of that they know they have to be patient with it and that everything they do could impact how quickly they will come back.
"But they are upbeat, they have a programme and they know what they have to do. They also know they will get a chance if they do the right things when they are fit again."
Barker on Luton Town test…
“I did my pro-license with Nathan Jones at Luton Town, he’s very intense, an excellent coach and he loves football. Luton are technically very good and I know with Nathan Jones involved he will have them well-drilled.
“Nathan left a couple of years ago to join Stoke, came back and did a massive job to save them from relegation. They’ve obviously continued that momentum into the new season. Nathan is a very confident and motivated person, so he will have re-iterated to them just how good their form was towards the end of the season.
“I think Luton could be one of those sides that shock one or two people this season and of course towards the end of last season they were in promotion form and continued that into the new campaign."