Rotherham United ace Ollie Rathbone opens up on his injury 'nightmare' last term and how manager Matt Taylor reacted to the loss of a star man

Ollie RathboneOllie Rathbone
Ollie Rathbone
The midfielder talks to the Advertiser.

OLLIE Rathbone headed to Spain for Rotherham United's pre-season training camp confident that his injury troubles are now behind him.

The all-action midfielder was a key figure in last term's Championship survival push and wore the captain's armband but his involvement in the latter stages of the campaign was curtailed by a persistent groin issue.

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Happily, he is now clear of the problem and has been looking to work further on his fitness this week while the Millers are at the Pinatar Arena sports complex in Murcia.

"It was a nightmare at the back end of last season, to be honest," Rathbone said. "The more I did, the worse it got."

The 26-year-old missed five weeks in March and early April and then had to spend more time than he wanted on the bench as he nursed his condition while Rotherham were closing in on survival.

"I helped as much as I could and, thankfully, we got what we wanted," he said. "Touch wood, my groin is fine now. Hopefully we've seen the back of the injury. I've had a really good summer and got some really good work in."

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Rathbone sat out the opening pre-season clash, against Parkgtate FC a week ago, as a precaution and is expected to see plenty of game-time in the remaining friendlies as the Millers gear up for August 5 opening day at Stoke City.

The first-team squad returned from their break towards the end of June and flew to Spain last Saturday following a fortnight of hard work at their Roundwood base under manager Matt Taylor.

The boss moved to AESSEAL New York Stadium in October and is preparing for his first full season in charge after keeping the club in the second tier for the first time since 2016.

“He was wonderful with me when I was injured; so supportive, so understanding,” Rathbone said.

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“He's got all his own staff in and it feels very much like his operation. He's getting things how he wants them. Hopefully we can have more success off the back of that.

“Last season was brilliant. We achieved what we set out to do. It's a huge step forward for the club, especially after three relegations from the division in recent years. We deserved to stay up.”

Rathbone is so pleased to be fit again that he's even enjoying all the sweat and suffering that's required as a new campaign approaches.

“Pre-season has been okay so far,” he said. “I think the older you get, the more used to it you get. We've had some tough days but it's felt nice in a way.

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“It's good to be back out on the grass with the lads. The lads have returned in really good nick and look sharp.”

The former Rochdale man, who still managed to make 41 appearances last term despite his groin problem, has been buoyed by four players - Lee Peltier, Sean Morrison, Tyler Blackett and Grant Hall - choosing to extend their stays with Rotherham.

“It's a huge statement compared to how we started last year when some of our better players didn't sign new deals and went elsewhere,” he said.

“Everyone in the camp is very happy to see them back. They've got loads of experience and they're all very good players. I think they'll be really valuable to us. I'm very excited about next season.”