Doncaster Rovers: Rest is good for a change for James Coppinger
You would think James Coppinger had done it all in his 15 years at Doncaster Rovers but he has had to get used to something entirely new this season.
Having days off.
Under the advisement of manager Darren Moore, the 38-year-old has been doing his own work at home on Monday rather than travelling in to Cantley Park and has occasionally sat out Thursday altogether.
He admits the concept is more than a little alien to him but, after a few weeks of the new regime, he is feeling the benefits.
"I've played 40-something games for the last 17 seasons so my body is used to training and playing." Coppinger told the Free Press.
"I didn't want to change anything I've been doing over 15 or 16 years.
"It's difficult to not train when you feel like you can. It's difficult to not join in a shooting exercise when you know you can.
"But with ankle injuries that I've had in the past and other things going on with it, I know I can't so you learn to manage it.
"If the manager is pulling you out and taking that responsibility for you as an individual, it's so much better because you literally cannot do it.
"It's worked. I do feel fresh when I have played.
"The sports scientists have said the same thing, that my stats are really good, the distances I'm covering are looking good.
"Long may it continue."
It has not just been the introduction of days off entirely that has altered Coppinger’s training programme.
Even when in training he will now be instructed to avoid certain sessions or drills deemed unnecessary for a player of his experience.
“The gaffer has said to me and I think he's been helped by Rob [Lee] and Walshy [James Walsh], the sport science guys, for how best to get me out there on a Saturday fresh,” he said.
“Instead of training me hard Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – I don't need to be doing that.
“A lot of the practical work – he will pull me out if it's running off the ball for example.
“I can do that in the classroom watching the clips on the video.”
When discussing his own future in the game and the factors which make him consider retirement, Coppinger has pointed to being away from his children due to travel time from the north east. He admitted in the past to feeling as though he was missing out on them growing up.
So it is no surprise that he is enjoying being around at home more and, after suggesting otherwise in the summer, is likely to continue his career beyond this season.
"As much as the lads will comment and wind me up saying I've had a day off or 'it's nice to see you', I do feel it a bit strange being off on a Monday," he said.
"But I do enjoy it taking the kids to school and spending time with them.
"It's mental, taking your time away from football.
"Having to come in on Tuesday and be back at it, I feel like I'm fresher.
"It might be different if we were getting different results but I don't think it would be.
"The gaffer is consistent with his approach regardless of the result so if it's the right thing to do he'll stick by it."