It's not quite Portugal! Darren Moore talks 'inspirational' Doncaster Rovers players in first week back in training

Had things been more than a little bit different, the Doncaster Rovers squad would have been commencing their second week of pre-season with a return flight from Portugal.

Monday, 10th August 2020, 7:00 am
Darren Moore speaks to his players during the first week of pre-season

The second week of pre-season would not have been taking place in the second week of August, of course.

So it was a case of what might have been for the squad as they were put through their paces in the patchy sun of Cantley Park rather than the blistering heat of the Algarve following their return to action.

“Had it been a normal one, we were talking about taking them in a training camp to Portugal,” boss Darren Moore told the Free Press.

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“We’d gone down the line and we had the facilities all lined up.

“When the pandemic hit we’d not quite put the deposit down so there’s a positive.

“We’d have been looking to get away on a seven day training camp. I like the camps because it gets the players away and you’re able to build focus, momentum, messages, culture.

“I think they’re a big component of the start of the season - getting the squad away, getting players away and putting them in a different environment to focus on what you want to do.”

It has been very much a case of making the best of things for clubs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For Rovers, the first week of pre-season involved the squad being split into bubbles with the small groups arriving at set times, bringing their own kit and food and being ordered away quickly to make way for the next group.

Moore was pleased with the manner in which his players approached their first week back in training, despite the unusual circumstances.

“The way they’ve come back in inspires me,” he said.

“I really do enjoy working with the group. In terms of the focus and intensity, togetherness, willingness, hunger - all of those things go together to inspire me as a manager.

“Everyone mucking in to make ends meet is really rewarding.

“I always like to see the person as they are, rather than the job they do.

“Probably two or three of them have a couple of issues but nothing that we don't think we can’t get rid of or sharpen up in pre-season or get them up to the levels they should be.

“In the main, all of them have been excellent, when you consider how long they have been off. It’s not six or seven weeks like it usually is.

“I’m really pleased with the condition they’re in.

“It’s been about getting their bodies back acclimatised to the football specific movement.

“And the intensity has probably been even greater because they’re working in much smaller groups.

“Everyone to a man has been excellent.”

The Rovers boss says the size of training groups should be permitted to increase this week as the club works through medical guidelines for returning during the pandemic.

“The restrictions will ease as we work through the different phases,” he said. “It’s four or five days per phase if all goes well.

“The numbers will increase now and we’ll be working towards the physical contact and going up against each other.

“That opens the door for working with team dynamics which is what we really want.

“By the end of the week we should be in a position where we’re working in larger groups and there’s physical contact and full contact time on the training ground.”

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