LEYTON ORIENT arrive at the New York Stadium with the best away record in the Football League but the last thing that Rotherham are feeling is fear.
The Millers’ home form may be somewhat disappointing, with their haul of just four wins in 14 games in marked comparison to their magnificent statistics on the road, but today’s test with the League One leaders is one everyone is relishing according to assistant manager Paul Raynor.
Raynor, mindful of how the Millers have reserved their best home performances for games against high-profile opponents such as Wolves, Sheffield United and Bradford City, said: “Although we respect them, we certainly don’t fear them.
“They are a good side with good players and high on confidence. But when the good teams come here, we tend to raise our game a little bit and the boys relish the prospect of playing those games. I think we probably showed them a little bit too more respect in the game at Brisbane Road and went 4-5-1 and flooded midfield.
“To be fair, they were decent and gone on top and played some good stuff. But in the second-half, we went a bit adventurous and went 4-4-2 and gave them real problems and were probably a bit unfortunate not to get anything out of the game.”
January was a busy month of transfer business for the Millers and while this week’s loan extensions of Newcastle United duo James Tavernier and Haris Vuckic for the rest of the campaign were widely expected developments, Raynor insists they were no less important ones and expects the pair to prove influential figures between now and season’s end.
Raynor said: “James has pretty much played every minute of every game he could have done in numerous positions.
“We always knew James was pretty versatile; a great attacking full-back, on the left and right, and he’s also played wide in midfield. He’s made a fantastic impact.
“We feel young Haris is also now ready to step forward and take his opportunity.
“We needed to work hard with Haris as he’s a different type of player to what we have had before and plays in a different way. But we always felt if we could get him up speed, he’d have a massive part to play and he’s now ready.
“We feel as if he has upped the tempo and playing in a way in which he can be more effective for us. He’s always played as a ‘number ten’ and secondary striker wherever he’s been, at Newcastle and in Slovenia and we don’t usually play that way, but with two strikers. But he’s adapting now and learning how we want to play and looking sharper and fitter. If we can replicate some of the things he does in training in games, he’s going to be a special talent.”
Rotherham yesterday extended the loan deal of QPR striker Tom Hitchcock until the end of the season and signed Nicky Adams from Crawley.