Leam Richardson keen to protect young Rotherham United stars from pain of relegation

ROTHERHAM United and Sheffield United prop up English football’s top two tiers and their situation is pretty forlorn, by common consent.

That said, the Millers are entitled to look at what is currently happening across the Tinsley Viaduct with a smidgen of envy in truth.

When clubs are in strife at this time of year - as both these Yorkshire neighbours undeniably are - with first-team players having not performed all season, providing opportunities to young academy products can offer something wholesome at least.

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In the spirit of that, Chris Wilder - wounded after witnessing the Blades 6-0 evisceration at the hands of Arsenal, promised to hand extended opportunities to some of his rising talents with his senior players being 'broken' in his words.

Leam Richardson manager of Rotherham United during a tough week (Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)Leam Richardson manager of Rotherham United during a tough week (Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Leam Richardson manager of Rotherham United during a tough week (Picture: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The likes of Andre Brooks, Will Osulu and Ollie Arblaster at least offer a spot of hope going forward.

at Rotherham, the situation is more problematic.

There is a time and a place to blood young players and the judgment call has to be right or it can hinder development as opposed to enhance it.

Osula and Arblaster have previously got ‘wool on their backs’ on loan in the third tier with Derby and Port Vale and played international age-group football.

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At Rotherham, there do not appear to be the requisite players who are ready to step up yet. There have been numerous times this season when the club have opted not to run with a full bench and therein lies a story.

Millers chief Leam Richardson said: “With all due respect, I have got my own problems and Chris has got his.

“Everyone has got a different opinion on it. I think there’s a time and place to put youngsters in and if they are ready, they are ready in situations.

“But you have got to be mindful that they are starting their careers and you want them to start it in a really good mindset and environment where they can be successful.”

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On an awful nine-match losing sequence - including successive 5-0 away beatings at Coventry and Norwich - the end of a torrid season cannot come fast enough for the Millers, to be brutally honest.

As it stands, there is a fair chance that relegation could be confirmed by the close of play on Good Friday with seven games still to go, if results go against them.

Factoring in loanees, the number of those whose deals expire at the end of the summer stretches into double figures, with Rotherham facing a major summer rebuild with a host of players likely to depart.

In the here and now, it is about having enough proud professionals in the dressing room to pull the first-team through a pretty desperate situation.

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Richardson continued: “I think you find great things about people in adversity. "Difficult situations can do one of two things. You will see who is on board, who is accountable and who wants to take leadership and I’ve learnt a lot about people in my short time here.

“I’m sure I will learn a lot about individuals in the remaining games."