Rotherham United manager Paul Warne was on iFollow Millers press duties ahead of his side’s trip to face the early Sky Bet Championship leaders Reading on Saturday.
The game at the Madejski Stadium marks a return to the dugout for the Millers boss, who has served his two week self-isolation period following a positive Covid-19 test for a family member.
On the agenda for the gaffer were topics including Tuesday night’s draw with Nottingham Forest, the importance of a collective squad effort this season and his team news ahead of the trip to Berkshire.
You can read the highlights from the interview below, with video content to follow shortly HERE on iFollow Millers.
Warne on Tuesday’s draw at Nottingham Forest…
“I thought we played really well in the first half and had the majority of the play in the opening 45 minutes without creating many clear-cut chances. In the second half Billy (Jones) won us a penalty and Dan (Barlaser) put it away. After that we had to withstand some pressure from Forest.
“That doesn’t detract from the way the lads played, we are well aware of the quality of the sides in this league and as a group of players I think Forest are right up there and I personally think they’ll finish in the top eight with the players they have. To come away with a point, after the effort we put in last Saturday is really rewarding for the group and I’m really proud of them.”
“We’ve always reinforced in pressing, hard work off the ball and organisation from set-pieces. The lads had the attitude to keep going to the end, everything mattered, and they are a great set to work with.”
Warne on the importance of a squad effort this season…
“The next few weeks will see many different faces play different parts of the games, because its going to take a massive squad effort this month. You have to make difficult decisions, but they are for the right reasons and the good of the team.
“We see the players every day, we speak to the physios everyday and we get paid to make these tough decisions. It is all based on what we see, it wasn’t an easy decision not play Macca (Shaun MacDonald). He understands why, he’s a great pro and wants to play every game but he understands our decision. Now he’s nice and fresh and if I want to play him on Saturday, it’s less of a risk.
“I think the world of Macca as a player and a bloke and I think he’s been consistently our best performing player so far this season, so it wasn’t easy to take him out of the game, but sometimes you have to. Tuesday’s game wasn’t the last game of the season and it’s about looking at the whole month and there are sometimes some tough decisions to make but we try to make them for the right reasons.”
“There is competition for places which is good, I have no problems with my squad, I know if any player needs to play this weekend they can. The competition for places is really good and the lads know that they need to keep their standards high to keep their places.”
Warne on team news ahead of Saturday’s trip to Reading…
“We’ve got a few knocks and bruises but I’m hopeful that virtually all of them will be able to train on Thursday. Clark (Robertson) fractured his metatarsal in the game against Norwich last Saturday, he’s seen a specialist and will have surgery on Monday.
"Unfortunately, that means he won’t be available to return to training for around 12 weeks. It’s a big blow for us and a big blow for him personally, he’ll get full support from us of course.
"Jamal (Blackman) was struggling at half-time, he took a blow to his ankle in training but in fairness to him he stuck with it. He won’t be training on Thursday, so we’ll wrap him up and hopefully he’ll be able to train on Friday. The physio team will do everything to make sure he’s fit for Saturday, I don’t foresee it being a problem, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Warne on Saturday’s game against Reading…
“Reading have a blueprint of how they like to play football, they are really good athletes and really good footballers. They make the pitch big and ask a lot of questions of you. They’ve got some pace, power and goals up top.
“They are in good form and are full of confidence, they had a potentially tricky game at home to Wycombe and won that, so we know we’ll be playing against a really in-form team. Our lads are confident though and I think we’re in form as well. We’ll go into the game with belief and hopefully we’ll be able to come back with a good result.”