‘I think we maybe need to win five or six games to stay up’ - Rotherham United chief

DOING the maths is a managerial pastime at this time of year and Paul Warne is no different.

Pre-match huddle: Rotherham United players ahead of Watford Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Currently self-isolating and keeping in touch with his staff and players via FaceTime and Zoom calls and the like, the Rotherham United chief has been crunching the numbers.

His side, who returned to action following another Covid-19 hiatus on Tuesday night, are six points adrift of Championship safety following Birmingham City’s victory over Reading the following evening as the Midlands outfit moved level on points with Coventry City.

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The Millers do have four games in hand on Blues – who visit Rotherham on April 17 – and three on Coventry, who they also have to host before the end of the season.

It has the portents to be a tense finale next month and into the first half of May and Warne admits his side are up against it. Equally, they are still masters of their own destiny. Just about.

Warne said: “There are not many teams apart from Barnsley, Watford and Norwich who really have had amounts of (back-to-back) wins lately. Even Cardiff, after winning games on the spin, have had a little bit of a dip.

“I think we maybe need to win five or six games to stay up. But if Coventry and Birmingham win even more, then it is going to have to be greater.

“Ideally we would like to win three or four on the spin, but we have not done that this season. I would be stupid and naive to think we will do that.

“Considering that we have won nine games in 33, for us to win more than five in more than 13 is not unrealistic.

“But it is a total that is attainable, that is all.

“All teams at the bottom are struggling and I think that five or six (wins) might be enough.”

April will be the acid test for the Millers, who are bracing themselves for a crammed schedule of fixtures on football’s resumption after the international break which would test sides with far bigger squads.

Before the end of the season on May 8, Warne has tacitly acknowledged that a run of four matches in seven or eight days will be on the itinerary at some stage and that is likely to involve the potentially vital home game with Coventry, which is yet to be rearranged.

Warne is pragmatic enough to accept that there will be ‘no old pals’ act’ and accommodation from former team-mate and Coventry manager Mark Robins when it comes to agreeing a date, with Robins concerned in his own side’s interests, just as his opposite number would be.

Warne said: “That is a problem and I don’t expect Coventry to bend over and do us any favours and hence if that is the game where we only have 24 hours recovery and they have four (days), that could play a massive part at the end of the season and be a massive blow to us.

“We are at the stage with the EFL where we have been given two options. We selected one that was preferable for me, they have come back and are saying they want us to take option two.

“We are saying that option two does not look very fair, it would be a game on a Monday and a Wednesday. Option One was a bit better, it was a Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday, which still was not amazing.”.

Meanwhile, Warne has provided some clarity to reports that 25 positive cases were recorded at the club in the EFL’s round of testing from Monday, March 8 to Sunday, March 14.

The governing body revealed in a statement on Wednesday that 25 ‘positive cases’ were returned from one unnamed EFL club – widely acknowledged to be Rotherham – following results from the latest round of testing across their 72 clubs.

It is understood that the number may have referred to positive tests and not the number of individuals involved.

Warne confirmed: “There have not been more than 20 individual cases involving players and first-team staff.

“I am the only one still self-isolating. Everyone else is through it.”

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