Rotherham United boss Paul Warne was on iFollow Millers press duties this morning, despite confirmation that he will be absent from the dugout for the upcoming games against Watford and Bristol City as a result of him undergoing a period of self-isolation.
It was a first opportunity to catch up with the Millers manager since that South Yorkshire derby triumph at Hillsborough, which marked the club's last action in the Sky Bet Championship due to the recent outbreak of Covid-19 which has subsequently caused games to be postponed.
With the training ground at Roundwood reopening the morning, Warne explained the many drawbacks that the lay-off has presented, whilst adding that two senior pros will assist Andy Warrington in taking training this morning.
Richie Barker and Warrington will both be in the dugout against the Hornets, with Matt Hamshaw missing out through isolation as well.
Full video content with the Millers boss will follow shortly, HERE.
Warne on self-isolating situation among first team staff…
"We have been hit really, really hard this time. It has gone through the camp and we've had a significant number of people self-isolating, including myself now.
"The lads’ first day back in will be today, as I do this interview on Monday.
"They won't have myself, Richie or Hammy there, but fortunately we've got Andy Warrington to oversee training.
"Richie will be able to take a session with the lads on Tuesday morning to take them through some work to prepare them as well as we can technically.
"I'll be watching from afar - although I'm not sure whether I'll be able to listen to Breck's commentary going through all of the emotions of it!”
Warne on overall squad health…
"I've been texting the players virtually daily to see how they are because some players have been hit really hard.
"I've been speaking to Ross [Burbeary] a lot and I'll need to speak to him straight after training to see how they look.
"Before we can nail down a starting XI, we need to find out how they are really.
"It's a difficult thing but sometimes in the face of adversity you come out fighting strong. Our lads are a bunch of warriors, I know that and I know they'll give everything they can. That's all I can ask.
"Nobody expects us to get anything from the game and I quite like that. I quite like the fact that nobody gives us a chance. The lads will use that as fuel I hope and go out and enjoy themselves and play without any inhibitions - which as a professional footballer, sometimes, is a lovely thing."
Warne on disadvantages of 10-day lay-off caused by Covid outbreak…
"There's nothing sinister going on here. We haven't thought 'it would be great to have 10 days off as a mini-break' - it is an absolute disaster.
"If we played on a Saturday and I said to the lads, 'I won't see you until Thursday' if they were healthy I would never do that.
"They need to come in, they need to keep topping their skills up and they need to keep themselves in a physical shape.
"They need to be footballers on a daily basis, so to suddenly not be able to use the training ground for 10 days is a disaster.
"A lot of them live in apartments and don't have gardens. A lot of them haven't been in any fit state to walk down the stairs, let alone go for a run.
"It is less than ideal but we have to try and attack these two games and see what we can get."
Warne on resultant congested fixture schedule…
"To play twice-a-week now for virtually every week of the season is less than ideal.
"Playing two games a week consecutively is difficult, especially with injuries.
"It isn't ideal, however, this season hasn't been ideal for fans, players, management and everyone else.
"The achievement won't feel any less satisfying if we manage to pull off a survival and I have full belief that we will.
"It is stacked against us, but there are other teams having problems so I can't moan about ours."
Warne on player availability for Tuesday night…
"We have an idea how we want to play in terms of shape, but then we have to try and put players into that system.
"The lads started training at 10:30am and at 12:30pm I'm due to have a FaceTime meeting with Andy Warrington and Ross and others at the training ground, just to see how they think the lads are physically.
"We have got some who we know will be alright and are cemented in but there are a few positions where we are struggling - we'll know more this afternoon.
"I'll speak to a few of the players who we're not 100% sure of and ask how they're feeling.
"It might be that we start with a team tomorrow and have to make three subs at half-time. That may be the case. I don't want to put anyone's health at risk, quite obviously."
Warne on progress of injured players…
"They haven't been able to do their rehab. The protocols we have are very tight so they have to tick boxes, get to certain speeds and do loads of different things before coming back into the reckoning. They haven't been able to do that.
"The good thing with injuries is that the body is going to repair with time, so they are closer to getting back, but they still need to get everything done.
"We won't see Jamie Lindsay or Chieo back in the squad training for another 10 days, I don't think. Maybe the second week of the international break, Jamie might be coming back. I don't know about Joe Mattock and Robbo, but I'll be speaking with the physios today to see exactly where they are."
Warne on Shaun MacDonald and Richard Wood stepping into coaching roles with first team staff absent…
"I've got Shauny Mac and Woody, who are more than capable lieutenants to take some of the session. We've explained what we want to do.
"The lads will want to train well with Macca and Woody today, no doubt.
"I've joked that they could both go into my office and should have a black 'staff' t-shirt with their initials on today!
"The lads performed really well against Forest and Norwich when I was self-isolating last time, so hopefully they can take some positivity from the Sheffield Wednesday game, which they should and enjoy tomorrow's game for what it is."