Neil Warnock will look to all but complete his “mission impossible” tomorrow and secure Rotherham United’s Championship status.
When the Millers lost to Reading 1-0 on February 23, they were six points adrift of fourth-from-bottom MK Dons.
But a seven-game unbeaten run – which includes wins over Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town – has seen the Millers reverse the tables.
Warnock – who joined the Millers on February 11 – takes his side to MK Dons tomorrow now six points ahead of their hosts, have brought about a 12-point swing in seven games.
It means victory would create a nine-point cushion, with just five games remaining, and safety will all but be assured.
“This was a game, when we came in, that we saw and knew we had to be in around them when we played them,” said assistant manager Kevin Blackwell.
“The importance of this game is massive, but it’s not as big as it could have been. And that’s a big thing for us.
“If we lose, it’s not the end of the world for us, and what a massive change that is. We couldn’t have thought that four or five weeks ago.
“Yes, it’s a massive game, but it’s not a game now where we’re under so much pressure. The game is going to be interesting.
“Clearly, all the pressure now really is on MK Dons. They have to do something. What we have to do is focus and make sure we keep doing the things we’ve been doing really well.”
Mathematically, victory tomorrow will not secure the Millers’ Championship status.
But Blackwell accepts it would “go a long way to seeing us home”.
He said: “The one thing we’ve all agreed on is that we are going to drive as hard as we can right to the end of the season.
“The great thing is, if we mirror the results of the teams in the bottom three, we’re home and dry. But we don’t want to get carried away. I think the players showed that down at Bristol City. They really wanted to make sure we stayed in the game, they worked hard, they were focused.
“With all that was going on around them, they concentrated on the game and that’s what we want them to do. Our goal difference is good too so it gives you maybe another point there. That’s a massive thing for us as well.
“We will pay full respect to Milton Keynes because the job Robbo (Karl Robinson) has done there in the last five or so years hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“But we’ve said all along we’re going to focus on staying up, and that’s what we’re doing. Once we’ve done that, we can talk about everything else.”
Rotherham’s unbeaten run is all the more impressive when considering the standard of opposition.
They won away at promotion-chasing Wednesday and Ipswich, beat second-placed Boro at the New York Stadium – and kept three clean sheets in the process.
Rotherham also beat Leeds United and Brentford, and battled back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Derby County.
Greg Halford and Lloyd Doyley are both doubts for tomorrow.
Defender Doyley suffered a knee injury against Leeds on Saturday, and missed Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City.
The 34-year-old underwent a scan yesterday, and the Millers are waiting on the results.
“He had a scan on his knee and we are still waiting on the report so at this moment in time I can’t tell you (anything),” said Blackwell.
Halford suffered whiplash at Ashton Gate in a first-half collision, but managed to see the game out.
Blackwell said: “He’s still getting treatment for it; it was whiplash and anybody who has had whiplash will know how painful that is.
“He cleared the ball and we were coming out and one of their players ran into the back of him and his head flicked back.
“It was the fact that when the doctor came on he thought it was a head injury and went through the whole procedure so that’s why it took so long.”