ROTHERHAM United are enjoying plenty of sunshine this week - which gives a clue that they aren’t in England right now!
They headed off to Portugal and a few days on the Algarve but this is no holiday for those Millermen tasked with launching a League Two promotion challenge under Steve Evans.
In fact, the Millers manager points out that their spell in the sun this week is geared towards stepping up their training and the intensity of it.
“It’s certainly no holiday, you couldn’t be further from the truth,” said boss Evans, recuperating following virus trouble but able to join the squad out in the sun.
“We will be training twice a day and the warm weather is invaluable in enabling us to put in some quality work and to step up the work and move onto the next level of fitness,” he said.
“It certainly beats slogging it out in the rain which we have done at times over the past couple of weeks. You take the weather in your stride, of course, but the conditions out in Portugal certainly benefit everyone.”
It will also be a trip that will help as a ‘bonding’ exercise for a squad of newcomers - 10 at the last count.
And he added his gratitude to chairman Tony Stewart for backing the venture.
“He gave us his blessing and it was typical of the backing we’ve had from the chairman,” he said. “He’s ensured we can come to such an excellent facility and also have exclusive use of it.”
Evans says they are to fit in a game and that looks set for today, with the the opposition to be Oldham Athletic who are also in the area.
Two players out there but not figuring in any game will be midfielder Michael O’Connor and defender Dale Tonge.
Newcomer O’Connor has a groin strain while Tonge has a thigh strain.
Neither of them played in the game at Parkgate last Saturday when Evans fielded a different team in each half in the 6-0 win.
“An excellent opener in so many respects,” reflected Evans who paid credit to their Northern Counties East League opponents, saying: “They played the game in the right spirit.”
Just one senior player has not gone to Portugal. Danny Schofield, regarded as the ‘marquee’ signing of the nine made last pre-season by former boss Andy Scott, has been left behind, which further confirms Evans’ view that he is not in his plans.
He was one of three players told recently that they can leave, Ryan Cresswell and Jamie Annerson being the others.
The squad return on Thursday evening ahead of Saturday’s NY Stadium opener.