MANAGER Neil Redfearn has urged his Rotherham United team to guard against Jordan Rhodes scuppering their plans to escape the Championship drop zone tonight.
The former Huddersfield Town forward is rated by Redfearn as the “best striker in the division” ahead of tonight’s trip to Ewood Park.
The Millers can climb out of the bottom three tonight if they avoid defeat to Paul Lambert’s Rovers side.
Back-to-back wins over Leeds United and Bristol City have given Rotherham the opportunity to climb the table, and they were unlucky not take a point from last weekend’s 2-1 home loss to Wolverhampton.
But Redfearn is wary of Rhodes, the £8m striker continuously linked with a big-money move to Sheffield Wednesday in next month’s transfer window.
The 25-year-old has netted nine times in a struggling Blackburn team this season, following on from his 21 goals last campaign.
He netted an 86th-minute winner the last time Rotherham visited Blackburn, in February, and Redfearn has warned his team not to be misled by Blackburn’s league position of 13th.
“Blackburn are a good side, some good players,” he said. “They have got the best striker in the division in Jordan Rhodes.
“They have experience at the back, and players that have had Blackburn at the other end of the Championship for a few years.
“Whatever happens this season, and where they are, they are still a good side and it will be a tough game.”
Redfearn believes Rhodes – who could be partnered up front by former Millers loanee Tom Lawrence – has “Premier League class”.
Asked how Rotherham can cope with Rhodes, he replied: “You have to make your defenders aware, and switched on.
“It’s not so much when Blackburn are in possession, with Jordan, it’s when we have possession and are attacking.
“His movement and where he takes defenders, how he gets in behind defenders, I think is probably Premier League class.
“If you give him time and space in and around the box, he’s lethal.
“We have worked on the fact it might be Lawrence who plays off him – the boy who was here on loan last season – and it’s something to think about.”
The Millers are likely to be without Stephen Kelly (calf) and Danny Ward (shin) tonight, Leon Best is suspended, but Joe Mattock is available.
Redfearn wants a similar performance to last month’s display at Elland Road, when Joe Newell grabbed a second-half winner.
“We need to put the same away performance that we did at Leeds – gritty, determined, resolute and defend well,” he said.
“Then when we do get chances, we have got to be ruthless.
“We just need to concentrate on us, and try to pick points up in every game which we play.
“If we can tough it out, pick up a point, it would be a good point at Blackburn.
“If we can get the three, we get the three.
“It’s important that we keep the momentum going, regarding performances.
“The performance was quite good against Wolves. Before that we got two good results off performances.
“We need to keep that going, because we have proved to ourselves that if we get the performances right the results do follow.
“There’s still a lot of the season left to go and we just need to make sure we get the levels of performance up.”
Best serves his final game of a three-match ban tonight against his former club, following his red card on debut at Leeds, and is due to return against Huddersfield Town on Tuesday.
Redfearn believes the former Sheffield Wednesday striker can play a vital role for the Millers this season.
“He’s a big player for us,” said Redfearn. “We had a behind-closed-doors game on Monday against Doncaster Rovers.
“We beat them 3-2 and Best scored; he was a real handful in that game, he played 45 minutes.
“The difference he makes when he plays, and the difference to our team, is unbelievable, and we have not had him. If you look at the strikers that can play with him, that’s better for them.”
Last six: Blackburn WDDWDW, Rotherham LLLWWL.
Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).
Last time: Blackburn 2 Rotherham 1; February 10, 2015; Championship.