Rotherham United v Oldham Athletic: Millers looking to hit heights with more regularity

Rotherham United's Lee Frecklington.
Rotherham United's Lee Frecklington.
Have your say

Rotherham United captain Lee Frecklington hopes he has put the injury woes of the last two years behind him.

The Millers midfielder has only played 31, 29 and 22 games in each of the last three seasons respectively, mainly due to a persistent calf injury.

But the 32-year-old has not missed a league match this season, and has already chalked up nine appearances.

Now he hopes to lead the Millers as they attempt to return to the Championship at the first time of asking this season.

“I aim to be fit and am doing everything I can behind the scenes,” said Frecklington. “Thankfully, at the minute, I am feeling good.

“As you get older, it’s more difficult. But I went to St George’s Park (National Football Centre), and had a good assessment and four great days down there.

“Since then, barring the tackle at Leeds (last season), the muscular things have gone.

“I got a programme that I keep on regularly, and I am hoping from the four days there we have got to the root of the calf issues.

“If you take away the niggling muscle injuries, fitness-wise I don’t feel my age.

“I get about as much as anyone else does. It’s trying to keep your muscles and body fine, to prolong your career as long as possible.”

Rotherham have impressed at their AESSEAL New York Stadium home this season, netting five against Southend United and Walsall.

Frecklington grabbed a hat-trick against the Cobblers, but head coach Paul Warne’s side have also struggled at times, as in the poor 2-0 home loss to Charlton Athletic.

The captain believes Rotherham now need to find some consistency in performance, if they want to challenge for the play-offs.

“We need to find that consistency,” he said. “We have proved in a couple of games the heights that we can hit. But in a few games we have let ourselves down.

“We need to find some middle ground.

“If we can do that on a regular basis, we will pick up more points.

“We want to make the New York Stadium a difficult place to come. With our high intensity pressing game, when we are on top of that, we do make it very difficult for teams, and they can’t get out.

“We proved that against Southend and Walsall; they are the heights we want to try and hit.”

The Millers host bottom-of-the-table Oldham today, but Frecklington is wary of John Sheridan’s rejuvenated side.

In the last fortnight Oldham have beaten Bristol Rovers away, were pegged back from 2-0 up to draw at Fleetwood Town, and lost narrowly to leaders Shrewsbury.

“There will be expectations (against Oldham) because fans look at league tables, but as far we are concerned they have done well in their last two games,” he said.

“We have watched videos on them; they are improving. But if we perform to our levels, we know we can be very good at home. That’s what we will be aiming to do.”

Rotherham currently sit ninth in the table, three points off the top six with a dozen points.

They are already over halfway to matching their total points gained in the Championship last season, just 23, after the opening eight games.

Now, Frecklington wants his team-mates to push on, after a reasonable start to life back in League One, as they target a top-six finish.

“We said at the start of the season we want to be in the top half at this stage,” said the Lincoln-born midfielder. “Victory on Saturday would cement us in the top half, and we will be looking up rather than down.

“I think we can take a lot of confidence from the first eight games. In some of those games, we have proved if we are on our game, we don’t fear anybody in this league; we are as good as them.

“If we can find those performances on a regular basis, I don’t see why that top 10 can’t be turned into a play-off spot come the end of the season.”

Top scorer Keiffer Moore is fit to start today, despite nursing a groin injury, which kept him out of training until yesterday.

Manager Warne admitted the striker has been “wrapped in cotton wool and bubble-wrap” all week, since their defeat at Bradford City last weekend.

“I wouldn’t say he’s completely over his tight groin,” said Warne. “We’ve managed him.

“We’ve wrapped him in cotton wool and bubble-wrap this week. He’s trained (yesterday), but that’s the only day he’s trained.

“With the games coming thick and fast, Saturday-Tuesday, we need to keep his grass-time down to make sure he’s available to play.”

The match has come too quickly for fellow striker David Ball, who missed the Bantams game due to illness.

The 27-year-old will also miss Tuesday’s trip to Blackburn Rovers, as the Millers treat a niggling hamstring strain.

“He’s had an injection at the top of his hamstring,” said Warne. “He was struggling last week with illness and it made sense to have the injection to settle it down while he was ill.”

Loan goalkeeper Marek Radak will make his fourth Millers appearance today and Warne is hoping the 20-year-old has another quiet afternoon.

He said: “In fairness to him, he’s not had a great deal to do. I hope he comes in and never touches the ball. That would be ace for me. I think what he’s had to do, he’s done pretty well.”

Millers youngsters Mason Warren and Kuda Muskwe have joined North Ferriby United on one-month youth loans.