ROTHERHAM United are preparing to implement a reduced training regime for Joe Mattock in a bid to keep the injury-plagued defender fit for their League One promotion push.
The 31-year-old managed only 15 outings last term and has already been sidelined three times since returning for pre-season at the beginning of July.
The Millers management believe that Mattock, who is now out with an achilles problem, will benefit from a less strenuous workload during the week.
When the Advertiser asked Paul Warne about the best approach, the boss replied: “Your question suggests we can’t rely on Joe, and his record does show that really.
“As a group of staff, we have to work out a training format to get as many games out of him as we can.”
Mattock has made more than 200 appearances for Rotherham since 2015 and is the club’s second-longest-serving player, behind captain Richard Wood.
Usually a left-back, he had made a success of a switch to the centre of defence in a 3-5-2 formation before his achilles complaint forced him out of last Saturday’s home clash with Crewe Alexandra at half-time.
“We all love Joe here,” Warne said. “He’s been a great performer for us.
“I think left-sided centre-half in a back three is the perfect position for him.”
Warne and his backroom team have already discussed the player’s situation and want to protect him in the way they do skipper Wood, aged 36, who no longer takes a full part in every session at the Millers’ Roundwood complex.
“Recent history would suggest we will have to go down the same route with Joe and just manage his training significantly so he can perform on a Saturday,” Warne said. “His performances have been excellent when he’s been available.”
Mattock was out for nearly six months last season after needing ankle surgery and two achilles issues and a tight hamstring have restricted his involvement in this campaign
He missed Tuesday’s visit of AFC Wimbledon and is set to sit out Saturday’s trip to Cheltenham Town, although a scan has shown his latest injury is not severe.