Key midfielder’s return integral to Rotherham United staving off complacency

Darren Potter: Holding midfielders return timely given absence of Lee Frecklington.
Darren Potter: Holding midfielders return timely given absence of Lee Frecklington.
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PAUL WARNE has been in the game long enough to appreciate a banana-skin fixture when he sees one.

His Rotherham United side may possess the look of ‘home banker’ ahead of this afternoon’s encounter with second-from-bottom Gillingham, but the Millers chief – part of a side who regularly upset the odds during his memorable first playing spell with the club – is issuing a note of caution.

I expect them to come here and fight and scrap for everything and I hope my lads will have a little bit more to bring back the three points for us.

Paul Warne

Warne’s team are chasing a sixth successive league win on home soil and you have to go back to March 2001 for the last time that happened for the Millers – during their promotion to the second tier under Ronnie Moore in 2001-02.

Stressing that today’s outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion against a Gills side who triumphed at Peterborough in their last away league fixture, Warne said: “A lot of people will turn up thinking that this is a ‘banker’ home win.

“As we all know – anyone who has been involved in sports – it’s not like that. They will turn up and probably will not have as much pressure as there is on us and have no responsibility to entertain the crowd.

“They could potentially turn up with six centre-halves; I do not know how they are going to play yet. But I know for a fact that they will not come down here and lay down and since the caretaker (manager) has taken charge, they have definitely improved.

“I expect them to come here and fight and scrap for everything and I hope my lads will have a little bit more to bring back the three points for us.”

The Millers will be without captain Lee Frecklington with a back ailment, but the return to the fray of influential midfielder Darren Potter following a heel injury should help fill the leadership void, according to Warne.

The Millers chief, whose side have shipped three goals in their past two matches, does have selection issues to ponder at the back, although veteran Richard Wood is likely to get the nod and return to the side after being rested for last weekend’s game at Oxford United.

On the return of Potter, Warne added: “Potter would be very important to any team. What he really allows is the front five to go and play.

“Obviously, without him playing, I have had to play other players in that (midfield holding) position and I do not think it is natural for them.

“I think it is natural for him. He is like a born winner and leader and when we had the twenty-minute wobble last Saturday, I could have done with him out there to calm the ship.

“It is not just about him on the ball, it is his communicative skills and the fact that an experienced player makes a difference in this team.”

The return of the influential Potter has been understandably welcomed by everyone connected with the Millers, but this weekend’s developments regarding key marksman Kieffer Moore are far less welcome.

Ipswich chief Mick McCarthy confirmed it is likely that he will recall the 11-goal loanee back in the New Year, which would deliver a hefty blow to United’s hopes.