IT will not be lost upon the more observant Rotherham United supporters that Portman Road was one of just two venues where the Millers picked up something on the road during their pitiful relegation campaign of 2016-17.
A draw at Ipswich Town towards the end of October, 2016 broke a sequence of seven straight away Championship losses at the start of that season and it was the club’s sole reward on the road until a further point at Preston in the final game on their travels in that wretched season.
Given the Millers’ desperate fortunes on their travels at this level – with their run without an away win stretching back to April, 2016 – any crumb of comfort is likely to be embraced.
After a priceless home win over Preston to start the new year the current week has been a sobering one for United, beaten 7-0 in the FA Cup at Manchester City on Sunday and bracing up to the prospect of potentially being without Jamie Proctor for the rest of the season.
The striker is set to undergo surgery on a hip injury, with the Millers having seen one potential attacking replacement move out elsewhere on loan.
It is far from ideal preparation for Rotherham ahead of today’s relegation ‘six-pointer’.
In terms of loans, you cannot bring someone in telling them they are going to make a massive impact and then be left out of the squad.Rotherham first-team coach Matt Hamshaw
While the Millers have been stymied in the market so far rock-bottom Ipswich have already brought in four players, including loan duo Collin Quaner and Will Keane, who have joined from Huddersfield Town and Hull City, respectively.
But the Millers, for now, must wait although the fact that striker Kyle Vassell is closing in on a first-team return does provide a touch of succour.
On a slow-moving transfer window, first-team coach Matt Hamshaw said: “It is a domino effect that comes from the top and works all the way down the leagues. A team in the Championship could sign a striker, which eventually ends up with a National League team getting their target. In terms of loans you cannot bring someone in telling them they are going to make a massive impact and then be left out of the squad.
Rotherham have made their first capture of the January transfer window after signing midfielder Matt Crooks from Northampton for an undisclosed fee.
The Leeds-born player, a target for the Millers last summer, has signed a three-and-a-half year deal and adds a much-needed fresh option in the middle of the park following Ryan Manning’s loan return to Queens Park Rangers.
Crooks, who turns 25 later this month, started his career as a trainee at Huddersfield Town and has also had permanent spells at Accrington and Rangers, briefly.
The Yorkshireman has netted six times for the Cobblers this term, including a hat-trick in the 5-0 win at Macclesfield in October.