The Millers embark on a run of four consecutive home matches, three of them this week, against Queens Park Rangers this evening buoyed by their performance against Huddersfield Town, if disappointed to only claim a 0-0 draw from it.
After praising his side, who hit the woodwork twice and missed a great chance late on through Ben Wiles, Warne must now decide how much to change it. Shaun MacDonald, George Hirst, Freddie Ladapo, Chiedozie Ogbene, Kieran Sadlier, Florian Jofezoon and the lightly-used Ryan Giles and Daniel Barlaser were substitutes at the weekend, so with only one unnamed injury from Saturday he is not short of alternatives.
“I’m going to see how they are, who looks a little bit leggy, and have a little bit of a word with my coaches and see where we’re at,” said Warne, when asked how he would play it.
“After a performance like that it’s hard to change it, isn’t it? But it’s pretty logical to think we’ll have to make some changes.
“It’s a big pitch at Huddersfield which suits our game, I prefer us on big pitches, but physically the lads gave a lot so I’ll look at the GPS stats, speak to them, I’ll see and make changes if needs be.
“It was a strong bench on Saturday, I’ve got Joe Mattock, Robbo (Clarke Robertson) and young Trevor (Clarke) just outside the squad who could all potentially come in as well so we’re going to need everyone because we’re playing virtually every six hours for the next few weeks.
“Hopefully changes don’t make us weaker, they make us fresher.
“Thursday to Sunday isn’t such a big issue – although I’m not a big fan of it – but Tuesday to Thursday is a problem.
“It might be that I start fully strong and then make five changes after an hour, or I throw five big dogs on with half an hour left.”
Defender Matthew Olosunde is expected to be available despite going off complaining of sore calves at Huddersfield.
“We’re not looking too bad,” said Warne of his options. “We’ve picked up an injury which I don’t want to disclose. Hopefully he’ll be okay for Thursday (when relegation rivals Coventry City are the visitors) but we’re not so sure.
“Apart from that I’ve got a pretty full echelon of players and I can’t have too many complaints.”
As well as how Rotherham physically respond to Saturday’s exertions, there is the question of how it affects them psychologically. Although they narrowed the gap to Coventry by a point, the feeling in the dressing room afterwards was by all accounts like they had been beaten.
“We had chances against Wycombe (their previous game, a 3-0 home defeat) and didn’t take them so I don’t want the lads thinking they can’t score goals but I think they’ll be really pleased with their performance and a point the way the other results went... of the bottom five teams, we probably felt the best.
“Psychology in sport is crucial. You can be the fittest player in the world but if your brain doesn’t tell you to run around, there’s no point and I’m lucky I’ve got 20-odd lads who all want to run around for the club.
“We took a point on Saturday but the lads felt a little bit like it was a defeat after the game. When I told them the other results they were pretty pleased with it.
“I just told them to build on it because there’s no point getting a point at Huddersfield, then the next three home games picking up nothing.
“We have to pick up another possibly six points from the next three home games to have a real chance of an exciting end to a surreal season.”
After Coventry, Rotherham play Birmingham City and Middlesbrough.
Queens Park Rangers did the Millers a favour by thrashing Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 on Saturday but it highlighted how dangerous Mark Warburton’s side can be despite neither being in danger of relegation nor realistic contention for the play-offs.
“It’s weird, some teams who have achieved what they need to turn up in flip flops and bring their donkey and passport,” said Warne invoking memories of Steve Evans’s famous end-of-season celebrations.
“Other teams – like QPR who are a really talented football team – can probably play with even more freedom than they have been, hence why they’ve been accumulating points.
“They’re a motivated group and I think the manager – considering the players he lost – has done an amazing job.
“I think they are playing with a freedom and a belief, since January especially, and they’re a formidable side to play against.”
Last six game: Rotherham United DLWLW; Queens Park Rangers WLWDWL
Referee: D Whitestone (Northampton)
Last time: Rotherham United 2 Queens Park Rangers 2, November 27, 2018, Championship.
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