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MANAGER: It's what we get paid to do

Manager Keith Millen reveals he's bringing the players back together on Christmas Day night

24 December 2021

With the game against Bradford postponed last Saturday it became a case of balancing the needs of rest and recovery with maintaining an edge ahead of the Sunday visit of Rochdale.

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“Finding a balance is a good way of describing it once we found out our last home game was off,” manager Keith Millen said. “It allowed us to give the players a break, physically but probably more mentally, just to have a little rest, to get away.

“In that respect it was nice probably not to have to play, you could switch off for a few days. Since then we’ve really built up training again to prepare them for this busy period.

“We looked at getting some hard work into them earlier in the week. We’ve done that now. I said to them after today’s session [Thursday], that now is about recovery.

“Everything we do now is thinking about what’s best not jut for the next game, but for the schedule we face. We look at the travelling arrangements, how I can cut down on us travelling too far, do we train later during the day, when we’re eating - there are so many things you have to think about now over this period.

“It’s not really training so much, it’s more recovering and how we can prepare. The turnaround’s so quick you’re almost thinking about the next game before you’ve even played on Boxing Day.”

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“That’s why the key word I’ve said to the players this week is focus,” he added. “It’s tough, there’s so much going on at the moment with Covid and the transfer window coming up.

“The amount of things I’m having to deal with away from football, I realise we have to really try and stay focused.

“You’ve got Christmas Day at home with the family but you know the next day you’ve got to play football. That’s what our living is, that’s what they get paid to do, and it’s really important that we make sure we’re prepared for Boxing Day.”

But does that include a Christmas Day training session?

“I did mention training on Christmas Day, just to see what their reaction was going to be … and it didn’t go down too well!” he joked. “It was something that I looked at.

“In the past I’m used to training on Christmas Day quite often, but when you weigh up how far some of the lads have to travel, I have to trust them.

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“I’ve told them they have to do some sort of exercise after they’ve had their Christmas dinner, go for a walk, just to get some fresh air really.

“I’m allowing them to stay at home more often than normal, but they have to do some work when they’re there. At the moment they’ve been good in that respect.

“All I’ve said to them is I want them all in the area on Christmas Day night. I don’t want anyone travelling Boxing Day morning over a distance, because we’ve got an early kick-off as well.

“All I’ve said is they’ve to be at home all day but make sure they’re back in Carlisle in the evening and have a good rest.”

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“In a way you sort of want to get out of the family, if you’ve got a big family, it’s difficult, and I used to quite enjoy having Christmas dinner, doing the presents and then telling them I’ve got to go,” he added. “That’s really the preparation I’ve said to the players.

“They’ve all got to be up in Carlisle, have a good night’s sleep and hopefully be ready for the game. That’s good because we’re quietly confident coming off the back of the last result.

“That seems a while ago now, but it’s put us in good stead. At the moment we’re all fit and healthy, which is actually quite difficult to manage with what is going on.

“I want to have as many players fit and healthy as possible with all the games coming up, so we’re working hard at that, because having a slightly stronger squad is key when you go through a run of games like this.”

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