Rotherham United v Blackburn Rovers: ‘We know what it takes,’ says Millers star Clark Robertson

Rotherham United's 'Clark Robertson: Used to end-of-season battles.
Rotherham United's 'Clark Robertson: Used to end-of-season battles.
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LIFE has rarely been dull for Clark Robertson since he headed south of the border in the summer of 2015.

The Rotherham United defender suffered relegation to football’s basement in his first season at former club Blackpool in 2015-16 followed by an instant return to the third tier in the following campaign.

Some chaotic off-the-field events at Bloomfield Road in 2017-18 continued the roller-coaster feel for the Scot, who is now strapping on his seatbelt ahead of a run-in with the Millers. It has all the portents to be stressful and bumpy, but hopefully with a glorious ending as the club aim for their cherished destination of Championship safety.

The 25-year-old, part of a Millers line-up who are desperate to reacquaint themselves with the wins column for the first time since New Year’s Day today when they entertain Blackburn Rovers, said: “I am used to these exciting run-ins, whether it is top of the table or relegation battles.

“There is lots to play for and every game is exciting and has things riding on it.

“I have had it all really. I signed for Blackpool when they got relegated from the Championship and then we got relegated from League One to League Two – and then bounced straight back with promotion at Wembley.

“Now I am in the Championship and I have played in three divisions in the last three years, but I think I have made the step up well and am enjoying playing in the Championship.

“Now I have got here to the Championship I want to stay and it is the same for all the players and staff. We have worked hard to get to where we are and want that to continue next season in the Championship.

“In terms of achievement staying up would be as good as getting promoted. When you look at the standard of this league we are massive underdogs going into most of these games.

“To have a chance of staying up, we would have taken that at the start of the season.”

Hailing from the ‘Granite City’ of Aberdeen it is perhaps no surprise that the values of steadfastness and determination are indoctrinated into the footballing DNA of Robertson, whose 14-year-association with his boyhood club ended in the summer of 2015 when he left Pittodrie.

His time with the Dons saw him break into the first team as a teenager and establish himself as one of Scotland Under-21s’ leading centre-backs, only for injury misfortune latterly to play its part.

Robertson has overcome vicissitudes to rise again at Rotherham, as have several of his team-mates, and while it remains to be seen if safety can be achieved, character and mentality certainly are not an issue – crucial pre-requisites in any successful survival fight.

Motivational fuel also arrives in a collective desire to prove the doubters wrong.

Robertson added: “When we got promoted staying in the division was the main aim and we have a chance to do that going into the last 12 games and we are still in touch.

“People would have probably had us bottom of the league by now and really down and out, but that is not the case.

“That is down to the squad we have got and we are all fighting for each other. We all want to do well and stay in this division.

“Our home form has been decent, but probably with too many draws. There would be no better feeling than getting the three points on Saturday to get out of the bottom three again and kick us on for the last 11 games. I think we are good enough to stay up, but we are drawing too many games and need to turn some draws to wins.”

The Millers’ status as draw specialists – 15 in total this season with the club on a run of five successive draws – precedes them and represents a source of agitation to some and could leave them exposed in the final analysis in 2018-19.

But ahead of a run-in that looked rough on paper it surely provides some hope as well.

Warne’s side have drawn against the likes of Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and Stoke City and competed for long spells against two further future opponents in Norwich City and Nottingham Forest.

They have also beaten the likes of Derby County – another side they must face again – and Swansea City.

“We are the underdogs and are not expected to get anything, but the boys are confident within themselves and we know we have ability to get something out of these games,” said Robertson.

“I think in some of the big games at home we have performed really well.

“Look at the likes of Sheffield United at home, which we probably should have won.

“Going into that game no one gave us a chance to pick up a point.

“People write us off and I think that plays into our hands.”

A perceptive manager who cannot be accused of failing to think outside the box in his attempt to provide extra elements of inspiration to his players in their safety mission, resourceful Millers chief Paul Warne invited a former member of the SAS to speak to his squad this week.

The army unit’s motto of ‘Who Dares Wins’ is certainly a timely one as far as Rotherham are concerned heading into this afternoon’s fixture.

Robertson added: “We are all fighting for each other and want to stay in the Championship and that is our goal.

“The manager is a great guy and always enthusiastic about the place and wants everyone to be the best they can be on a daily basis.

“Training is probably the hardest I have every trained in my career, but that is what he expects on a Saturday and gets the best out of you.

“The manager wants everyone to push themselves to the limit and the team spirit is unreal and it is one of the best dressing rooms I have been part of.”