Ollie Rathbone has spoken honestly about how he has had to work hard to get fitter and stronger.
The midfielder has scored four goals already this season, including in Saturday’s draw with Scunthorpe United, something he is pleased about.
“Adding goals to my game is something that has always been on my mind, and I feel like I’ve got to a physical level now where I can make up the distance and still get back in [after getting into the box],” said the 21-year-old.
“When I first came to the club, I wasn’t as strong as I am now, so I couldn’t make up those distances and then get back in – I’d be exhausted. Because I couldn’t make up the yards, I wouldn’t be in the box.
“[Working on that] has been part of my development, because I’ve always been a late developer. When I was 18, I was about 15. I played down a lot through my youth career, and the staff here and at Manchester United have been patient with me. They knew that I had more in the locker and I feel as though I’m growing more and more each season, and every week even. That goes down to Kevin Gibbins when he was here – he did loads of work with me, and Ross who has taken over that now. I do a lot of individual work in the gym to get quicker and stronger, and I feel like that is paying off this season. I also do loads of work on my finishing so I’m really happy that it’s coming out in games now.”
Dale came from 2-0 down to claim a point on the road on Saturday. Rathbone admits it was disappointing to concede the goals in the matter they did but is pleased with the fightback to get something from the game.
“It’s all individual errors and we all know that - it’s nothing that the backroom staff could have done. It was frustrating but as a team you’ve got to forgive that, and I think we recovered from that and came together to give a really good performance in the second half.
“At half-time we’re obviously 2-0 down and you’re looking for a reaction, which we definitely got. We all knew it was down to us. Everyone to a man was on job and winning battles [in the second half] and I thought that on another day we’d score more goals, so I think we’re disappointed with just a point. It’s down to us to start games like that.”
Rochdale are back in action on Saturday, hosting Gillingham at the Crown Oil Arena. For Rathbone, it can’t come quick enough.
“After a performance like that, we’d maybe want a Tuesday game. I feel like there’s a bit of momentum with the squad – that’s three games unbeaten. We’ll have a good week in training, working on the issues that have seen us not winning games and then we’ll go into Saturday and hopefully get the win.
“I feel like in my first season here we didn’t have a very good away record. We seem to have fixed the away problem now and we just need to get back to winning games at home and I think we’ll have a very successful season.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.