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‘We have to set the tone at home’ – O’Dowda

Callum O’Dowda expects a different kind of contest when City take on Rotherham United at Ashton Gate.

The Millers’ physicality got the better of the Robins in December when they ran out 2-0 victors in Yorkshire but home advantage can play its part this time around, according to O’Dowda.

Fast forward to this weekend and Paul Warne’s side have a relegation battle on their hands as they head to BS3, where City are looking to head into the international break on a positive note.

🎥 Watch: O'Dowda eyes Rotherham United test

O’Dowda told Robins TV: “Every game is a new opportunity and looking at Rotherham from the outside you’re thinking they’re struggling but it’s still a massive game. Look at what happened in December so we know how important it will be.

“It may be a different game compared to the one at their place. As the home team it’s always more about how we will set the tone but we have a gameplan, we know how we will set up so it’s key everyone is on the same wavelength.”

O’Dowda has recently returned to the first team after a spell on the sidelines. His hamstring injury had seen him out of action since Boxing Day’s win but a goal on his return at Birmingham City was the perfect response as he fights for a start in the Sky Bet Championship.

“I’m really pleased with my progress,” he said. “It’s tough after being out for so long and I’ve experienced it before a couple of years ago with the length of the injury. You have to get your rhythm back.

“I’m really happy, I feel I would be ready to start a game but I’m not sure how long I would last. I’ve lasted full 90s in pre-season before but it depends on the state of the game. But I’m happy with the progress and everything feels good, both my hamstring-wise and body.”

O’Dowda agrees with his manager Nigel Pearson who is adamant not to rush his players back from injury as he looks to keep his squad as fit as possible for the long term.

He continued: “Players know their bodies but at the same time you can trick yourself into thinking you’re missing out. In my head there were 10 games left and I needed to get back as quickly as I could but in hindsight you don’t need to rush, because what if I had played and got a reoccurrence, then that could an end-of-season job.

“So you have to be smart, be honest with yourself and he (Pearson) knows that from experience but it’s nice from him because in the past I’ve been in situations where I have been rushed back and I wasn’t right, so the message is clear from him.”

The international break follows after Saturday’s action, with O’Dowda called up to the Republic of Ireland squad. They face Serbia and Luxembourg in World Cup qualifiers before a friendly with Qatar. That’s potentially more minutes in the tank for O’Dowda who hopes to return to City “more sharp” after international duty.

Robins TV coverage

City v Rotherham United will be streamed live on Robins TV from 2.30pm with City’s Player Pathway Manager Brian Tinnion as guest and co-commentator for the show which includes pre-game build-up, replays, multi-camera setup and post-match analysis.

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