Preparing for Sunderland far from simple for Covid hit Doncaster Rovers

Preparing for today’s clash with Sunderland was no easy task for Doncaster Rovers caretaker boss Gary McSheffrey.

Monday, 27th December 2021, 1:55 am
Gary McSheffrey

He may have had more than a fortnight to work with the squad but the number of players at his disposal was severely diminished by an outbreak of Covid-19 among the group.

And it was not until Boxing Day that he knew exactly what condition the majority of those returning from isolation were in as they reported back for the first time.

“It’s madness,” McSheffrey told the Free Press.

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“You don’t know what is going to happen.

“There are constantly new rules which could bring a lad back that you thought was out for ten days that now is only out for eight.

“At the minute, we’re prepping as well as we can for training but one or two extras might turn up at half nine on the morning.

“We find a solution, we adapt and we do the best we can.

“On Thursday we had 15 outfield players and four keepers. A couple of them were youngsters coming in to boost the numbers for us.

“Only one or two of the 15 outfield players were youth team lads.

“We’re not playing with a six-a-side team in the cages at the Keepmoat. We’re able to put on proper sessions and making the most out of it.

“We’ll see what the boys were like who come back in on Boxing Day, where their levels are and how they’re feeling.

“Then we’ll pick a team we think is the fittest and best we can be.”

After the initial wave of positive tests, McSheffrey felt the staff acted quickly to prevent a more widespread issue.

“We acted quite early once we found out what was going on,” he said. “We had some tests, we had one training session and then we shut down for a few days.

“We had a full batch of PCRs on Friday and then again on Monday and we resumed training on Tuesday.

“This week it was a few days training and with us playing on the 27th, the boys were able to go and see their families on Christmas Day.

“We’ve made the best out of a bad situation but it was integral that we had that little shutdown period.

“I think hopefully, touch wood, it nipped it in the bud rather than it getting worse.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.