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READ | Barker's pre-Sunderland press highlights

30 August 2022


READ | Barker's pre-Sunderland press highlights

30 August 2022

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Rotherham United assistant manager Richie Barker was on-hand to fulfil iFollow Millers duties ahead of the midweek trip to face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday.

Across the topics up for discussion, Richie covered the club’s excellent start to life in the second tier, how the squad is looking moving into another busy week and whether there has been any further detail on the injuries sustained by Cohen Bramall and Cameron Humphreys at the weekend.

Also on the agenda was facing Sunderland – and how preparing for that may be different following the departure of Alex Neil.

You can read the highlights of the interview below or watch all of the video content on iFollow Millers shortly, HERE.


Barker reflects on Birmingham City triumph...

"It was obviously an excellent performance and it could have been more commanding in terms of taking our chances - obviously with Dan missing the penalty - but we're also well-aware that we gave them a couple more opportunities than there should have been.

"If you'd have given us this start to the season four weeks ago or whenever it was, we'd have snapped your hands off.

"We're not getting carried away and we have a really busy time coming up with some tough games with a few ex-Premier League clubs in there, so we won't get carried away and we'll just move on to the next one."


Barker on the five-game unbeaten start to the club's Championship return...

"I think I saw that it was the joint best start to a second division season that the club has had, so yeah, we would have taken it and it is important for their confidence.

"We've got players here who have played a part in numerous Championship campaigns. If you look at Woody, he's probably played nearly half of his time here in the Championship.

"It's important for their confidence but the players are well-aware that there is always a tough one around the corner."


Barker on what a good start will have done for the players with various levels of experience within the dressing room...

"You've got a real mixture in there.

"You've got people like Hally and Pelts who have spent the majority of their careers playing in the second tier - and they've been useful additions.

"Then you have people like Cam and Cohen who have got very little Championship experience but it has been a fairly sizeable change around of numbers this season, so maybe that change around has led to the fact that the players don't have those mental scars from the last five, six or seven years - including the relegation before we came in.

"Maybe the fact that we have had a bit of a changing of the guard has given us a fresh start."


Barker on squad health upon their return to training on Bank Holiday Monday...

"Sometimes there have been Bank Holidays that I didn't even know were Bank Holidays - they don't really exist in football!

"We came in and did a very light session for the ones who played. We have an extra day to prepare with playing on Wednesday but it also means we'll have  six day week with the players getting no rest, so it was important that they had a little bit of a 'down' day.

"We got a bit more work into the others who are going to be vital for us as we got into the international break and one or two of them will have to step in over the next few days with us playing Wednesday-Saturday."


Barker on Cameron Humphreys and Cohen Bramall injury updates...

"Cam and Cohen were both scanned this morning but the results haven't come back yet, so we don't know.

"Cohen we're hoping will be a bit more positive than Cam as you would imagine. He was more of a precaution than Cam.

"How bad it will be, we don't know. We have the international break coming up, so if we can at least get through until then with hopefully, touch wood, no more injuries then with a bit of luck, he may be available after then. Until we get the results back we don't know."


Barker on Brooke Norton-Cuffy...

"We have to be careful with him. People think that when you get into your 30s - or like Woody your 40s! - you have to start monitoring game time and thinking about can he play every week, but that is exactly the same for an 18-year-old.

"The fact that he comes from Arsenal means that people might not be aware that he is the same age as Mack, Curtis and Ciaran, who train with us on a daily basis, but we wouldn't expect them to play back-to-back Championship games.

"That was his Championship debut at the weekend and it will have taken a lot out of him mentally and physically.

"We have to be as aware of him as we do anybody else.

"Also, he's not our player. We don't want a reputation of running other people's players into the ground otherwise nobody is going to lend them to us."


Barker on whether there is activity on the transfer front as the window nears it's closure...

"We have never given up trying to bring people in. Everyone is always trying to improve their squad.

"Some days, everything looks rosy. If you'd have sat here on Friday and looked at Tolaji Bola, Haks and Jamie McCart not making the bench but then all of a sudden, 48 hours later you've picked up two injuries, have three games in a week and two coming up Wednesday/Saturday. 

"We don't want people hanging around that don't want to play or can't play either.

"It is a fine line. The way that it has been run over the last five years with just the right numbers because of the group dynamics is important."


Barker on Joshua Kayode loan departure...

"I'm really pleased for him because obviously he had the previous two loan spells at Gateshead and Carlisle. 

"To go and play regular League One football - which unfortunately for him with the success that we had last season and the strikers that we had in the building meant that his game time was probably a bit more limited than he would have liked.

"Then obviously off the back of a promotion, is he ready to then jump and play regular Championship football?

"He certainly doesn't want another year of being a sub again, so it is a really good opportunity for us to let someone else develop him - the same way that we have developed players for other people.

"He will be back with Griggy again, who is probably one of the most popular people that we've ever had at this football club. He will put his arm around him and do the right things and he'll work with him.

"It's a really good club who I'm expecting to go on a good run of results now and I'm hoping that JJ can play a part in that and score and help them to win games to get them back in the top six."


Barker on facing Sunderland...

"I would say that they are very much a Premier League club.

"I think they were 11th in England last year for average attendance, which when you consider they were playing in the third tier, it is some achievement.

"It's a fantastic stadium and certainly not a club that you would expect to hang around in Division Three.

"Alex [Neil] did a really good job and unfortunately has moved on which has thrown a bit of a spanner in our works because it is never easy to try and work out what a team is going to do when a manager has been sacked or a manager moves on.

"I know there are a lot of rumours about who is going to take the job, but we obviously don't know what has happened in Sunderland for the last 48 hours.

"We'll try and prepare the best we can."


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