ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Paul Warne is urging veteran captain Richard Wood to draw inspiration from an unlikely source – tennis legend Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard is providing conclusive evidence that age is no barrier in terms of sporting success and Warne feels the League One leaders have their own ‘ace’ in the promotion stakes.
Warne is also unequivocal in his view that Wood and his side’s senior brigade will all have a particularly important part to play in the pivotal run for his promotion chasers, both and an off the pitch.
Warne, whose side welcome AFC Wimbledon tomorrow, said: “Woody, (Joe) Mattock, Smudge (Michael Smith), Shaun MacDonald and even Pricey (Lewis Price), to a certain extent, are definitely essential.
“Woody is definitely a driving force. I pulled an article out of Sports Illustrated for Woody this week about Rafa Nadal.
“It said that about four years ago, a journalist said to Nadal: ‘you are gone and your legs are gone’ and all that.
“I said to Woody: ‘do not worry about your age’ and that I would never be ageist – I played until I was 40.
“Older players bring a lot. As all of my players have got weaknesses, they have got strengths and one of Woody’s ones is leadership in the dressing room and he wants to win everything. He wants to head the crossbar.
“Shaun is like a ‘quiet assassin’ and the lads have much respect for him and he calms them down.
“The older players will definitely have an effect. It does not feel like there are only three games left and everyone is getting really giddy. There is a third of the season left – a long time.
“It is about keeping the standards up in training and the senior professionals definitely helping that.
Meanwhile, Warne has revealed that Clark Robertson has suffered an injury setback and is ‘back to square one a little bit’ in his comeback plans.
The ex-Blackpool defender is suffering from a foot injury and remains in severe pain and will seek another medical opinion.
Deadline day signing Curtis Tilt trained with the Millers for the first time yesterday after overcoming a glute problem.
Warne has confirmed that highly-rated young striker Jacob Gratton, who recently joined Scarborough Athletic on loan, will be out for eight or nine months with a cruciate injury.