'It’s going to be a matter of get in, train and get out' - Darren Moore on Doncaster Rovers' return to training under Covid-19 restrictions

It was never going to be a normal pre-season for Doncaster Rovers.

By Liam Hoden
Friday, 31st July 2020, 9:00 am

By the time the squad hits the training ground on Monday for the first day of their preparations for the 2020/21 campaign, it will have been almost five months since a ball was last kicked at Cantley Park.

And as they begin the quest to shake off the months of inevitable match rustiness, they must do so in an environment entirely different to the one they left behind in mid-March.

Pre-season will begin under heavy restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with strict social distancing measures in place at Cantley.

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Doncaster Rovers training ground at Cantley Park. Picture: Marie Caley

But boss Darren Moore says his players and staff will be delighted regardless, as they get back to normal business ahead of the September 12 start date for the new campaign.

“The first thing is that we’re governed medically by the PPE structure that the EFL and the government have put together for us to return back to football,” he told the Free Press.

“It means that we’re working in small groups and we’ve got to keep social distancing.

“At first it’s going to be a matter of get in, train and get out. It will be limited contact.

“I’ve got to work in small groups, probably three groups of five and adhering to the procedures we’ve been given for the players.

“They players will gladly receive Monday with open arms, to get back out on the green grass and see the ball rolling.”

Part of the strict procedures will see Rovers enter the EFL’s Covid-19 testing programme, as well as daily monitoring of players’ health.

“Every single day the players have to fill out a form on an online app before they come to training,” Moore said.

“Their temperatures are taken every single day.

“Everyone will get a proper test on Wednesday. That is all something that will continue for as long as necessary to make sure everything is always done right.

“We’re well rehearsed in it. We’re following the procedures.

“It’s the new norm in terms of getting everyone back and the safety of everyone is the priority.”

Though the Rovers squad have kept themselves in good shape during their time away, having had five months without regular training means fitness work is the top priority for next week.

But Moore is also keen for his players to get footballs back at their feet as soon as possible.

“A large emphasis will be on the physical output of the players and getting them in a condition and a robust state for the fixture list that will be thrown upon us,” he said.

“The other thing will be getting them mentally and psychologically ready under the new regime we’re working to.

“We want to get them doing the football specific movement, the twisting and turning.

“You have to remember that it was March 18 when they probably kicked their last ball.

“It’s getting them back into those football specific movements that will be really important in understanding that side of the game.

“That’s what it will be for that first week - getting the feel of the ball. Passing won’t be over more than ten or 15 yards, things like that.

“It’s almost reintroducing them to the ball.

“Once they’ve got that first week out of the way and acclimatised back together, we can start ramping it up in week two and onwards.

“If we’re sticking to the procedures it means that then we’ll be able to work with the larger groups which is better.

“We can start looking at team shape and play at that point. And hopefully by then you hope to have one or two new bodies into the club.”

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