An old boy and an old foe lie in wait for Rotherham United tomorrow.
The Millers travel to Cardiff City for a Championship clash, boosted by the impact of their four new loan signings in last week’s draw with Blackpool.
Former Rotherham United striker Adam Le Fondre is expected to start for the Bluebirds, now managed by Russell Slade who suffered Wembley heartache at the hands of the Millers in May when his Leyton Orient side were beaten in a League One Play-off Final penalty shootout.
Rotherham boss Steve Evans said; “I don’t know Alfie (Le Fondre) at all but the staff obviously know him here, and he’s a legend, isn’t he?
“He’s a fox in the box. You only have to look at his goal against Watford last week. The ball’s just rolling in and he runs in from a wide area and taps it in to an empty net. That’s what Alfie does.
“I know the staff will be looking forward to seeing him. But hopefully when we see him it will be after the match and we’ll have added to our points tally.
Millers fans affectionately nicknamed Le Fondre ‘Alfie’ because of the initials of his name and he remains a huge favourite with them after scoring 54 goals in just 90 Rotherham league starts between 2009 and 2011.
Tomorrow’s contest pitches Evans against Slade for the first time since their Wembley showdown, and the Rotherham boss is promising to have a beer with his old adversary whatever the result.
Slade moved to the Cardiff hot-seat following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in September.
Evans said: “They should have never had those early-season problems. We all know . We all know that with the quality of player that they have got.
“I must admit that when I heard Russell was in the running, and probably before it was publicly announced that he had the job, I had the biggest smile on my face.
“He is a man I know well and respect. Of course, we beat them (Orient) in the play-off final, and he was treated with the most utter disrespect at his previous club .
“For it to be said, in front of an open dressing room, you will be sacked if you don’t win on Tuesday was absolutely horrific.
“It must have given him the biggest satisfaction when Cardiff offered him that job.
“I have far too much respect for Russell to talk about Wembley. His team were 2-0 up and it was a penalty shoot-out which decided whether we went up or whether he led his side up, which is the finest of all fine margins.
“He has a very talented squad of players and fantastic infrastructure. What a set-up with a club that has just come down from the Premier League with all the things that go with that - resources etcetera.
“I will be side by side to him at Cardiff trying to get my team three points and he will be the same.
“At Wembley we never shared a beer, because the disappointment would be too low and the high too high to make sense and normality of it.
“Whatever happens on Saturday, I am sure myself and Russell will have our first Christmas beer of 2014.”
Slade has made Le Fondre part of his first-choice strike duo with Kenwyne Jones, and the little hitman, despite scoring just twice this season, is popular with the Cardiff faithful because of his workrate.
Loan signings Tom Lawrence, Scott Wootton, Reece James and Emmanuel Ledesma all showed up well against Blackpool and will be in Evans’ thinking for tomorrow.
“I think they are played a big part,” Evans said.
“Scott Wootton was the obvious one who stood out, I thought he was outstanding. The two wide players swapped and both could have gone home as they couldn’t get any joy.
“I thought Lawrence had a great spell in the first half and that Reece James was better in the first half than second..
“It is very difficult when you come into a new environment and are playing. I thought they acquitted themselves fantastically well.”
Frazer Richardson, Richard Wood, Joe Skarz and Lee Frecklington are all in contention after injury concerns, but central defender Kirk Broadfoot is out for three weeks with a cracked collarbone.
And there will be no place in the squad for goalkeeper Scott Loach.
He is training again with Rotherham after Bury decided his loan spell there wasn’t working out and he picked up a calf injury.
Evans confirmed: “He can’t play for us until the second week in January as that is the loan deal and that is what they (Bury) paid to. We can’t contractually involve him.”
Meanwhile, Evans hasn’t ruled out the prospect of injured striker Luciano Becchio, on loan from Norwich, playing for his side again.
“Perhaps,” he said. “He’s contractually with us, I think, until the first week in January.
Becchio fractured his heel in a training match just as he approached full fitness after more than a month with the Millers.
“The agreement when he went back to Norwich for his treatment and rehabilitation- and the reason for that is the facilities and medial help that they can give him - was that we’d speak in the middle of next week,” Evans added.
“We’ll speak first to the medical team at Norwich to see whether they’re giving him the green light, and if they are I can assure people he’ll be back.
“We only really started to see the Luciano from Leeds United at the back end of our time with him.
“Gone on the days when you think you can turn a footballer around in a week and get him fit. It does take you four of five weeks. If you think you can just run them up and down hills for two weeks and they’re fit, it’s the opposite to that because of the care that their bodies need.
“We were there. The shame of it all is that the day he got hurt, the game at Wigan, was to get him further there.
“It was for no other player, only for him. He was unchallenged and on his own turning, so that’s what made it even harder to take at the time.
“He was just starting to become a big player for us and big personality for our supporters to grab on to as well.”