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Rowett on Championship resumption

The boss on squad fitness and more...

15 June 2020

Gary Rowett has stated that everyone is in for "a challenging few weeks" as the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season restarts this weekend - and has said his Millwall side will be "as ready as they can be" to take on Derby County on Saturday.

After the COVID-19 pandemic brought English football to a halt between mid-March and mid-June, the campaign will now be played to a finish, beginning with the visit of The Rams to SE16.

With clubs allowed to play friendlies as part of the build-up to the restart, The Lions took on Colchester United at The Den last weekend, with Rowett telling "I was pleased with some of it - not all parts of it, though. It was a physical exercise but also a psychological one; playing against an opponent, playing against someone who isn't your mate on the training ground where perhaps you might not go in as hard.

"It was a box that needed ticking and most of the players got through unscathed. It was a good exercise and when we moved the ball well and quickly, we got into some good areas and created some good opportunities.

"One or two of them were probably still a bit rusty and needed to get that out of their systems, but we'll play another 60 minutes at The Den during the week between ourselves and see if we can get ourselves as ready for Derby as we can be."

With no competitive football played for three months, it remains to be seen where squads stand with regards to their fitness levels, with Rowett stating that a "survival of the fittest" situation could come into play.

"I think everyone is going to have a challenging few weeks - I'm hearing a lot of teams have quad injuries and strains, including us. It's so difficult - do you risk someone because they need the fitness, or do you leave them but then they aren't fit enough to play in the first game or two.

"I think it's almost going to be a survival of the fittest situation. The fact we've got some minutes into the players [on Saturday] is a real positive, but I don't believe anyone will be truly ready. You've just got to be in a position where you're as ready as you can be to try and attack games."

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