NEIL WARNOCK believes Leon Best can be a key player in Rotherham United’s battle to avoid the drop.
Best’s return from long-term injury has coincided with an upturn in results under new manager Warnock.
The Millers have collected 10 points from their last four games, three of those matches against teams chasing promotion to the Premier League in Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Derby County.
Today they take on another promotion contender in Ipswich Town at Portman Road, and Warnock believes the return of Best - who got injured on debut at Leeds United back in November - plus Lee Frecklington and Greg Halford has been instrumental in their revival.
Former Owls striker Best provides a pivotal figure in attack, and came off the bench to score twice and earn an unlikely 3-3 draw - the Millers had trailed 3-0 with 10 minutes to go - against Derby last weekend.
And while Warnock believes Rotherham fans won’t see Best back to full fitness until next season, his return has boosted the Millers.
“He won’t get 100 per cent until pre-season, and he has to work through the summer,” said Warnock. “He had a bad double hernia, so he will have to do a lot of work building up, to give himself a chance.
“But he is getting sharper. I saw that at Sheffield Wednesday, when he came on I thought ‘wow’.
“He made an impact and I don’t think their centre-halves were happy with him, and I don’t think the Derby defenders had any chance with him.
“He did really well, scored two.
“That’s why when you are looking to bring someone in on loan, it’s very difficult. We are not going to bring someone to just sit on the bench.”
Rotherham are one point behind MK Dons and Fulham, with Bristol City and Huddersfield Town not out of range.
Last six: Ipswich LWWDLW Rotherham LLWWWD.
Referee: S Martin (Staffs).
Last time: Ipswich 2 Rotherham United 0, September 27 2014, Championship.