Ben Whiteman enjoying period of reflection before Doncaster Rovers return

He has stepped up his preparations for a return to training with Doncaster Rovers but skipper Ben Whiteman has hardly been sat idly by at home for the last four months.

By Liam Hoden
Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 5:00 pm

Rovers are expected to return to training inside the next fortnight for the first time since mid-March when the Covid-19 pandemic brought a halt to the game.

Still on furlough like the rest of the playing staff, Whiteman has been taking part in football-specific coaching sessions alongside teammate Reece James.

Prior to that however, the 24-year-old had given plenty of thought to what had passed in the season so far, both on and off the pitch at Rovers.

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Ben Whiteman

And he believes he will return with a better outlook on how things should be done.

“For me personally it’s been tough but I’ve actually really enjoyed it,” he told the Free Press.

“I’ve stepped away from things and had a look at things and I’ve enjoyed it to a certain degree.

“I’ve been able to shut off from things and look at things differently.

“Obviously you miss the football. That has been the biggest thing, not going in to see the lads and the staff.

“Overall it’s been a really reflective period for me. I think it has for a lot of the lads as well.

“I’m big into watching clips back - things we can do better and things we’ve done well.

“Training too - things we’ve done well and things I think we could have taken into games more.

“It’s just been about sitting back. There’s not a lot you could really do, particularly when lockdown was at its most strict.

“For me, it was a time not to get myself down but to really reflect on things.

“It’s definitely helped with that.”

Though plenty of work has been put into the mental side of the game for Whiteman, he admits he has relished the opportunity to have a ball at his feet once more alongside James.

“It’s been really good doing that,” he said.

“The last game was MK Dons which was nearly five months ago.

“It’s just good to get out and get a feel of the ball again and some specific training.

“I say it all the time - you can do all the training you want, have the quickest times but there’s nothing that compares to football fitness.

“For me it was brilliant to get out for an hour and a half with Reece and some other lads and doing some work with the coach.

“We either do it once or twice a week. We have running that we need to do so we have to fit that around it, and strength work.

“It’s good to get the touch of the ball and get the technique back.”

Whiteman is itching to get back to Cantley Park - however training is conducted due to Covid-19 restrictions.

And he is driven by the knowledge pre-season will be short, with next season expected to begin in mid-September.

He said: “I’ve been spending time with Joe [Wright], Brad [Halliday], Tayls [Jon Taylor], Reece, Tom [Anderson] - we’ve all had running programmes and that was tough when it first happened because we still had to do all that when we didn’t know what was going to happen with the EFL.

“We had start dates to come back and then we didn’t. So that period was a bit tedious.

“We’re all looking forward to getting back in now with safety measures in place.

“It’s going to be a little bit different but we’re looking forward to it.

“The lads will all be coming back in top shape because we know how quick it’s going to be before we start playing.

“It’s going to be a different sort of pre-season. We don’t know yet if we’re all going to be in together or if some of the lads will be grouped off.

“We’ve got these running programmes so we’re all going to be coming back in good shape to stand us in good stead.”

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