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READ | Warne's pre-Sutton United press highlights - Papa Johns Trophy final

31 March 2022

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne took time out to speak to the local media ahead of Sunday’s Papa Johns Trophy Final showdown with Sutton United.

The Millers head to the capital to take on the League Two side in the showpiece final at Wembley, bidding to win the competition for a second time, having done so in 1996.

Warne discussed what winning would mean, the prospect of playing at the national stadium and delivered his team news ahead of the fixture.

You can read highlights from his interview, here.

 

Warne on injury updates to Georgie Kelly, Michael Smith and Freddie Ladapo…

“Smudge is okay, he had an injection in his toe and his heel, which feels a little bit better.

“Freddie and Georgie did their last days of rehab today and passed with flying colours, so they will be able to train with us on Friday.

“They all have a chance to feature on Sunday. I didn’t think Freddie was going to be available for six weeks, so to have him back in three to four is great news.

“Hopefully Georgie can come back well and towards the end of the season, we can give him some game time."

 



Warne on the unsuccessful appeal of Angus MacDonald’s red card…

“Firstly, he’s available for selection in this game, which is good news for us. It was disappointing not to get it overturned, because we felt like we did have a chance.

“I thought it was maybe a little harsh, but then you could also see an argument as to why the referee would give it and they’ve decided to go with his initial decision.”



Warne on international players…

“Shane played 90 in the first game and didn’t have any involvement yesterday, which is good for us, as is JJ playing 20 minutes for the U21s.

“Chieo played 90 and 82 minutes, he’ll be buzzing when he comes back into the training ground and rightfully so.

“He’s had a great season for us and Ireland. He’s conducted himself really well and is a fan’s favourite, he’s had a brilliant first full season as an international and hopefully he’ll continue that.

 

Warne on his squad selection for the Papa Johns Trophy Final…

“Everyone has played a part in getting us there.

“The fact we haven’t had a game in two weeks and the need to reinvigorate our League One form may encourage me to go more with a ‘league’ team than a ‘cup’ team.”

 

Warne on the international break…

“I loved it personally, it was nice to just turn my brain off for a weekend and it enabled me to come back on Monday full of beans thinking ‘here we go.’

“I think this has been the same for the lads, the pressure has been increasing in recent weeks, so it was nice to recharge the batteries and take stock of where we are.

“We could train the lads and enjoy training them, which was good. We didn’t have a game to focus on and could just work on a few things.

“It feels like we’ve been playing three games a week for ages now. We were really on the edge and for the last home game we had a few issues with injuries and fatigue, hence our performance wasn’t amazing.

“The break came at a good time and from everybody’s point of view, we were running on empty. So it was nice to have a break.”

 

Warne on being tipped as ‘favourites’ for the final…

“Wigan were favourites when they went into their game with Sutton as well. Playing at Wembley is a real leveller and Sutton’s players will be well up for it.

“They’ve been amazing in their first year in the EFL and are going for back to back promotions and have full belief in the way they play.

“They are in really good form and the whole town has got right behind them for this final.

“I think our club have been blessed with Wembley trips over the years, but it is still a massive honour for us too.

“The lads won’t stand in the tunnel and feel superior to Sutton in anyway. It is a bit cliched because anything can happen in a final against two good teams.”

 

Warne on whether lads that were involved in Play-off final v Shrewsbury have key roles in ‘managing’ the occasion on Sunday…

“I don’t know. I can’t tell you whether it is better or worse that the lads have been there or haven’t.

“I want them to enjoy it and I want them to feel it but I don’t want to be afraid of it.

“It’s a big game, but if we don’t win it, we play Charlton the weekend after, that’s how I see it.

“Some of the lads have played there before, but I just want them to be the best versions of themselves.

“I don’t know if it is an advantage or not. I will probably do something at the hotel on Saturday night and discuss a few things so that the lads know what to expect and what not to.

“By all accounts we’ve sold quite a lot of tickets as have Sutton.

“I think the experienced heads in the dressing room are there to support the younger lads as they are at Wycombe or Accrington away. I think the younger lads will have a good idea of what is to come but it’s about performing on the day.”

 

Warne on his memories of the Play-off final against Shrewsbury and whether there is anything he will use that he did on that occasion, this weekend…

“Everything I think went well or worked well, is only because we won.

“Bally missed a penalty early on which people forget about and Woody got his toe on a right-footed finish which I have never seen him do since. If Shrewsbury had gone up the other end and we’d have lost 2-1, everything we’d have done wouldn’t have been right.

“The game is on the smallest of margins.

“The only thing I can think we did well for us, was that we didn’t make a big fuss about it. We didn’t get all suited up – and I’m not saying like Liverpool in the 80s! – and we didn’t go too far that way. We tried to keep it as a ‘normal’ game.

“It was relaxed, we stayed in a nice hotel a little bit out of London and we’ll do the same this time.

“We’ll try and keep everything as ‘same’ as we can.”

 

Warne on his feelings on the competition now the Millers are within touching distance of silverware…

“I think we’ve always respected the competition and always set out strong.

“We’ve hardly conceded any goals in the tournament really and it is a reward for the whole group and squad for putting their bodies on the line. It is a players’ day.

“Seven or eight extra fixtures isn’t ideal but if you’re in it and you get out of the group stages, you’ve got to try and win it.

“I saw how happy the lads were in the dressing room at Hartlepool and how much it means to them.

“It’s a bit like being a parent, if your kids are happy, you’re happy.

“I’m hoping they can use this as a springboard for the rest of the season.”

 

Warne on whether winning a trophy would be a good reward for what his players have achieved and been through in the last couple of seasons…

“I don’t know about ‘deserved’ but it would be nice.

“I’m pleased for the fans especially those who were at Crewe and have supported the team in every round.

“I’ll be pleased for all of the players’ families who I know will go down and watch their sons.

“All that is pretty amazing.

“For us to win a trophy – and I know that it isn’t the Champions League final, although I am not belittling the competition – it would be a massive achievement.

“If we could do that with a promotion as well then, in my opinion, it would be one of the best seasons that this club has had.”


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