Testing times! Fitness coach Ben Rome on Rovers’ impending trip to Portugal

Ben Rome. Picture: Andrew Roe
Ben Rome. Picture: Andrew Roe

Ben Rome freely admits he’s the most unpopular man at Rovers right now.

And that isn’t about to change in Portugal.

Rovers fly to the Algarve on Sunday but, as fitness coach Rome explains, the club’s five-day training camp in Vilamoura will be anything but a holiday.

“It’s something we did last season and it allows us to control everything - in terms of what every player does, eats and drinks - for 24 hours a day,” said Rome.

“It’s quite unique like that. There are no distractions.

“The players will work hard but it’s not a case of flogging them to death while we’re out there.

“It’s all about working very closely with the boys - on an individual and collective basis - to get the squad injury free and ready for a long, tough season.

“It’s a popular misconception that everything in pre-season is geared towards getting players ready for the first game.

“We’re not just thinking about Yeovil away, we’re also thinking about Scunthorpe at home [the last league game].

“Trips like this aren’t just about the physical side of things either. It’s a great chance for the lads to bond as a unit.”

Rome will board the flight this weekend armed with an impressive bank of data, captured from a series of tests and measurements collected over the last fortnight.

“Before the lads reported back on June 30 we got them in for two days of testing,” said Rome, who has worked previously at Rotherham and Sheffield United, and was elevated to his current position following Dean Saunders’ departure in January 2013.

“We looked at things like body fat, and we also did a series of power tests - including a jump test, agility test, 20m sprint, and the yo-yo test, which is a bleep test of sorts but is geared more towards football.

“The lads that were here last season did the same tests on the first day of pre-season a year ago.

“So we were able to compare those baseline scores and work out exactly where those players are at in terms of their fitness.

“The lads that weren’t here, we can let them know exactly where they need to be.

“The results from those tests then impact on how we split the group up for running and gym sessions, and the work we’ll do in Portugal and when we return.

“Everything is tailored towards the individual these days.

“The players don’t like me at this time of year,” added Rome.

“I’m an unpopular person right now.

“We’ve got a good set of lads here though. They know it’s going to be hard and they embrace the hard work. Everyone just gets on with it.”