Rotherham United boss Paul Warne oversaw a training game at AESSEAL New York Stadium on Friday involving those players who weren’t handed minutes on Tuesday night, alongside the likes of Clark Robertson and Shaun MacDonald who continue their quests for full fitness following injury lay-offs.
Members of the Millers first team who haven’t seen a lot of action in recent weeks were given a run out as part of an 11 v 11 fixture in which Academy youngsters stepped in to help populate the sides with the game played out in three 25-minute periods.
Neither Chiedozie Ogbene or Kieran Sadlier featured, but returning loanees Curtis Tilt and Jamie Proctor were both involved, while Viktor Johansson and Josh Vickers took up positions between the sticks.
Speaking following a good work out for both senior and young professionals ahead of a fixtureless weekend, Warne was pleased with the opportunity to hand some much needed minutes to a number of his players ahead of the hectic fixture schedule that awaits his side, starting at Middlesbrough on Wednesday.
"We just needed to top up really. Obviously without a game this weekend it has enabled us to train the lads a little bit harder,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
"The lads who played Tuesday night have done a different session down at the training ground today and now everyone can have a bit of relaxation before it all kicks off again.
"It is going to be all hands to the pump, so we need to make sure that we tick all the boxes physically so that when called upon, anyone can play.
"Today Freddie, George, Macca, Robbo, Curtis, Trev and both the 'keepers got some minutes as did the two young pros - Jake Cooper and Jake Hull - which is good.
"As is always the case, it is a squad game and people who haven't been playing inevitably will at some point between now and the end of the season because we've got two games a week virtually for the next 10 weeks.”
The Millers boss continued to add that the training match not only enabled his senior pros to get some minutes into their legs, but also a good opportunity to monitor the progress of Richard Hairyes’ Academy youngsters, with Warne taking a vantage point higher up in the stadium than his usual spot in the dugout to do so.
"From a training point of view it was good for the first team players and from an Academy point of view it is good for their development,” he added.
"It is good for the youth team to play against first team players especially on our stadium pitch. It's a good experience for them and nice for us to get a good look at where the young lads have progressed to.
"Any midfielder playing near Macca today will have seen the standards that we set and what a good player he is, and subsequently, how they need to improve their game.
"We played 3 lots of 25 minutes and there wasn't much of a break in between. We rotated a few of the youth team players but all of the pros played the whole game - which is what it was set out for.”
Meanwhile, with Luton Town’s continued involvement in the Emirates FA Cup, the Millers are without a game this weekend.
This enforced break will likely offer Warne’s men one final chance to recuperate before an unforgiving fixture schedule over the next month or so, and whilst the manager would have liked to have had his players back in training tomorrow, he also recognises the importance of recharging the batteries.
"I had intended to have them in on Saturday but the training pitches are looking a bit waterlogged after all the heavy rain we've had. I think that would make it counter-productive,” he explained.
"I think the lads would rather come in because it’s not like they can go anywhere or do anything else with their time, but it will just be the injured lads in tomorrow.
"I'll go in and watch them doing their last bit of rehab and they'll rejoin us on Monday.
“As much as I’d have liked to have everyone in, the chance for lads to freshen themselves back up may not be a bad thing considering that we will be playing virtually twice a week for the foreseeable future.”