Rotherham United defender Richard Wood has revealed how he was left home alone when he was discarded by former boss Alan Stubbs.
The centre-half played in the Millers’ first two Championship games under Stubbs but was axed after a 3-0 away defeat at Aston Villa and was never picked by the Liverpudlian again.
Wood didn’t even travel with the Rotherham squad for fixtures on the road before Stubbs was sacked last week with the club at the foot of the table.
“It’s been very tough. I’ve had quite a lot of days off when the team have travelled away,” the 31-year-old said. “We haven’t got the staff or amount of players for me to be doing fitness work, so I’ve been on my own really. It’s been a hard time.”
One of the heroes of last year’s second-tier survival during Neil Warnock’s spell in charge, Wood received an instant recall when Kenny Jackett took the hot-seat last week and put his frustration behind him with a man-of-the-match display in the 1-0 loss to Reading.
“I had to stay positive and wait for my chance, and that’s come about with a change of manager,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ve taken it, and now I have to keep up a level of performance good enough to stay in the team.”
Wood sought meetings to clarify his situation with Stubbs who blamed him for goals conceded at Villa Park on August 13 and also for Wolves’ opener in the 2-2 draw at New York Stadium a week earlier.
“It was just the previous boss’s opinion,” he said. “I’m not his type of player. My face didn’t fit. That was never going to change. I couldn’t change anything.
“I stayed professional and didn’t sulk. I got on with my training. That’s how it is sometimes. I had conversations with the manager about it. Plenty of times.
“I considered leaving in August but I decided to stay. We were losing games and conceding goals so I thought I’d get my chance. It’s come about now. I’m not bitter. It happens all the time. You can play only 11 players. You just have to get on with it, and I did.”
There is a new mood of optimism in the Millers camp following the arrival of Jackett who has 32 games in which to bridge an eight-point gap between bottom spot and a place out of the bottom three.
His side head to Ipswich Town on Saturday seeking to avoid an eighth straight defeat and Wood is desperate to keep playing his part.
“I’m a solid, no-nonsense defender,” he said. “First and foremost, I defend and keep everybody together. I think that’s what we need at the moment.
“Thirty-two games is enough time for us to survive, and that’s what the manager has said as well. Time is on our side and we can definitely do it.
Meanwhile, Jackett is already formulating the way forward for Rotherham when the January transfer window opens.
The manager, who this week signed free-agent striker Peter Odemwingie, said: “In terms of recruitment, we will have to be clear where are market is and be clever.
“Will we be going toe to toe in the transfer market with a lot of the clubs in this division? No. But there is a market for us. To be successful in the Championship, we have to be experienced, knowledgeable and decisive.
“There is a talent pool that we can identify and go for that can bring success at this level.”