Ipswich Town v Rotherham United: Paul Warne conscious of load-management of his players

THE LONG winter nights are in view and Paul Warne does not fancy getting a punch in the face, as he puts it.

In pugilistic terms, Rotherham United’s guard has been exemplary so far in 2021-22, but it will be tested in this evening’s game at a League One heavyweight in Ipswich Town which precedes another stiff away examination against an aspiring contender in Oxford United on Saturday.

Should the Millers’ 14-match unbeaten run extend to 16 by the end of this week, it would set them up well for the winter grind.

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Millers chief Warne, who has top-scorer Michael Smith back from suspension tonight, said: “You have to get through three games in a week.

Rotherham United captain Richard Wood is a player whose workload has to be managed ( Picture: Tony Johnson)

“It is not as bad as it was 10 years ago and the pitches are better as you used to go through winter and it was a slog, and it isn’t so much now. But it is just about my physical team monitoring everything.

“I picked a team for Cambridge and had also got an eye on who I definitely wanted to play in the Ipswich and Oxford games. It is trying to manage loads and players’ expectations to a certain extent. But if I didn’t win the Cambridge game, then I’d have been an idiot...The best laid plans and then getting punched in the face… That’s how I see it.”

Saturday’s victory moved the Millers up to second, with their points tally back up to an average of exactly two points per game, which generally ensures automatic promotion at season’s end.

Yet Warne doesn’t need to be told twice there is a long, long way to go and the competition looks as strong at it has done for several years at this level.

Paul Warne is conscious of load management. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Warne added: “I think this year will take the two biggest scores to get automatic for a while.

“I remember a few years ago when we came up in the play-offs, it was Wigan and Blackburn who were the two top teams and they seemed to run away with it.

“Last year, Hull were very good as well and averaging virtually two points per game. It feels like it again. You do have to win a lot and that’s why we destroy and put the lads back together in pre-season.”

Last six games: Ipswich WDDDWL; Rotherham WWWDWW.

Referee: G Ward (Surrey).

Last time: Ipswich 0 Rotherham 2, October 23, 2019; League One.