Gary Rowett has analysed the international break and looks ahead to an exciting trip for Millwall to Swansea City this Saturday.
The manager discusses the progress of training at Calmont Road over the past fortnight, and claims maintaining a rhythm is paramount.
“I think the international breaks are always the same. After a heavy period of games, you have to use it as a little bit of a breather for the players, especially with a small group. You can’t take too many risks,” Rowett said to millwallfc.co.uk.
“We’ve had four players away. There have been days where we’ve been able to get some good work under our belts, and other days where it has been limited as we’ve only had 12 players training. But we’ve been able to further implement principles and ideas that we want into the players, especially regarding how we play away from home – trying to be different in certain ways.
“So, it has been a valuable couple of weeks. Would I rather have played another game quickly after Charlton? Of course – but that is The Championship, something you have to navigate, and it’s about how you come back and make sure not to lose the rhythm.”
The manager’s focus towards the squad has largely been based on how to navigate The Lions’ away fixtures – still seeking that first win on the road to get on the board.
“We are of course looking specifically at Swansea as well, but when we’re working to improve our away form we’re looking more generally.
“We’re looking at how best to move forward, how we can maybe be a bit more flexible in certain types of games, and the players have trained fantastically well. The challenge will be to produce a ‘home-like’ performance in a difficult away trip.
“I’ve been really impressed with the job Steve Cooper has done at Swansea so far. With a very good reputation after working with the England setup, he’s now come into a different animal altogether in the Championship and from afar, it seems he has taken Swansea’s philosophy and used some of his own methods to try and improve it. We won’t be overawed – especially with their recent drop in home form – but they move the ball well, can cause problems and we’ll be mindful of that.”
The boss then outlines his ambitions for the team in the short-term, and embraces every minute spent with his squad – both on the training pitch, and in competitive League action.
“Every day that you spend on the training ground and around the players is a day with more experience and understanding of the squad.
“In an ideal world, you’d see all the players in competitive action, in terms of the way you want to play, in a Millwall shirt. That’s the best time to judge. It’s a case of trying to win games, climb the table, then learn about the players and give players opportunities.
“The upcoming period moving towards Christmas is when we’re going to be tested the most. We’ve already got a few niggles and challenges which can make things harder for any small squad, but it’s a good time, as you want to be playing games. Every game is a chance to earn points and be closer to where we want to be, which is higher up the table. We’ve spoken to the players, we’re ambitious. Rather than looking behind us, we want to see who we can reel in ahead of us.”