Doncaster Rovers 'must catch up with their fitness in matches'

Gary McSheffrey insists there is not much more that can be done outside games to improve the fitness levels of his Doncaster Rovers squad during this demanding period.

Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 12:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 12:07 pm
Gary McSheffrey
Gary McSheffrey

Rovers are deep into a run of midweek matches as they prepare to travel to Portsmouth at the weekend and the strain on bodies told against an energetic Ipswich Town side on Tuesday night.

The difference in fitness levels between the sides was clear, with Rovers showing tired legs following their high intensity performance in the impressive win over Sunderland at the weekend.

McSheffrey has worked to improve the fitness of his players since taking charge of the side in December but says match fitness will only come by playing matches.

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“If they get through these games without picking up injuries, it’s more fuel in the tank for them,” he told the Free Press.

“It’s good for them.

“To get up to speed you sometimes have to suffer as you go through the levels.

“It was clear how different the intensity levels and the fitness levels were on Tuesday night, and Ipswich kept the ball really well in the first half so it tired us out a little bit.

“The relentlessness with how their full backs got up and down the pitch, there was a definite gulf in fitness levels.”

McSheffrey started with the same side against Ipswich that began the game at Sunderland and says changes may be required in order to inject fresh energy into his team.

“We know we’ve got a couple of strikers on the bench that are champing at the bit,” he said.

“We dust them down, see how they’re shaping up on Thursday and we put a team out that is capable of competing.

“We’ve got the numbers. It’s just important they get their rest in them, good nutrition and get themselves ready to go again.

“That’s football at this level. You’ve got to be robust enough and fit enough to deal with how many games you have to play in certain months.

“They can’t feel sorry for themselves. And if they feel it’s too harsh, then they’re in the wrong job.

“They need to to get up to speed.”

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