Hard work paying dividends for Millers striker

IN-form Millers striker Michael Smith feels he is playing the best football of his career under Rotherham United manager Paul Warne.

Michael Smith: Standards improving at League One level.

The 27-year-old ended his scoreless start to the season with a brace of goals against Coventry at the beginning of October.

He followed that up by opening the scoring at Bloomfield Road last weekend as Rotherham won 2-1 at Blackpool to earn a valuable three points.

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The Millers’ attention now turns to this afternoon’s game with Oxford United, who have not lost a league game since the beginning of September.

“I think this is the hardest I have worked as a striker at any club,” admitted Smith.

“But I think I have played my best football here so it is going hand in hand.”

He added: “But it is about the team. If I am scoring, then the team is playing well and we are winning and that’s what matters.”

Rotherham sit 10th in the SkyBet League One table after 11 games but are just two points adrift of the play-off places and five behind the automatic promotion spots.

The Millers were relegated from the Championship last season but Smith believes the South Yorkshire club have the quality to bounce straight back up.

He said: “The standard of League One is going up every year but our squad as a whole is better and more equipped than the last time we were in this division. We just need to put those mini-runs together and, hopefully, we can keep it going against Oxford.”

Smith feels that the quality in the third tier is constantly improving and puts that down to the number of young academy players who struggle to break into Premier League sides.

“With the influx of foreign players into the Premier League it means that lads filter down the leagues,” added Smith.

“The standard of the Championship was unbelievable last year and we got a taste against Man City in the FA Cup what the standard of the Premier League is like.

“There are also a lot of ‘big’ clubs in League One.”