Rotherham assistant Richie Barker says Watford game should not have been played

There was no shame in the way Rotherham's return to action after their coronavirus nightmare ended.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 11:27 am

The Millers went down 4-1 to promotion chasing Watford in their first game for 13 days following a severe bout of Covid-19 which struck down over half of their squad.

This game was always going to be a write-off because to say preparations were hampered is putting it mildly.

It was not only the players that were affected by the virus.

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Joao Pedro of Watford runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Richard Wood.

Boss Paul Warne could play no physical part in the build-up as he is in the middle of 10 days of self-isolation.

Assistant Richie Barker and first-team coach Matt Hamshaw did not come out of isolation until Tuesday - the day of the game.

That meant that goalkeeping coach Andy Warrington and club captain Richard Wood took training on Monday.

Barker, still feeling ill after his scrape with the disease, had 30 minutes to talk his team through the organisational and tactical aspect of the match.

It was not enough, but even it had been three hours it would still not have been enough given the circumstances and how the players were still feeling.

Goals from Francisco Sierralta, Ismaila Sarr and Ken Sema put the Hornets firmly in the ascendancy before the break.

The valiant Millers put up a fight, with Michael Smith missing a penalty before Freddie Ladapo's wonder strike got them back in it only for Dan Gosling to kill the game.

It was a match that should not really have been played, but had to be because of the club's fixture congestion, where they already have more games left to play than fixture slots available.

Barker, taking media duties with Warne stuck at home and still clearly feeling the affects, said: “It has been a difficult time for everybody and, for me personally, the last 10 days have not been very nice.

“It was not an ideal scenario to come back after one day’s training and play against an ex-Premier League team who I am sure will be there or thereabouts in terms of promotion.

“From the viewpoint of player welfare, I would say it’s not really the right decision to play and there were a good few players out there who have not been in a good shape over the last week.”