Father figure Alan Stubbs has revealed how a touch of love and understanding is helping Rotherham United youngster Izzy Brown battle back from a serious bout of tonsillitis.
Teenager Brown has been laid low by the illness for around three weeks but featured in matches before the international break against Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United despite feeling under the weather.
And the 19-year-old is ready to play tomorrow as the Millers return to action at Championship promotion contenders Norwich City after responding to his manager’s caring approach.
“He’ll come in every now and then and have a little splutter and a cough as if he’s still feeling it a bit,” Stubbs revealed.
“But it’s amazing what an arm around the shoulder and telling him he’s fine can do! He’s getting over it. I think he’s at the tail end of it. He’s still coughing up a bit of mucus.
“He’s certainly feeling better than he was against Huddersfield and Newcastle.”
The condition forced Brown to pull out of the England Under-20s squad, but the forward, who has been arguably Rotherham’s stand-out player since arriving on a season-long loan from Chelsea, is like to continue in his central role just behind striker Danny Ward at Carrow Road.
“The number 10 position, he’s influenced games in that role,” Stubbs said. “Izzy would still probably see himself as a wide player. A lot of other people with better opinions than Izzy would say differentl! The fact is, he can play in a few positions because he’s a talented boy.
“He’s had a quite severe case of tonsillitis. He was feeling pretty rough at Huddersfield and it carried on into the Newcastle game. But he was adamant that he wanted to play.
“That, to me, showed a different side to his character that perhaps people don’t know about. He deserves a lot of credit for that.”
The Millers are in bottom spot and travel to the second-placed Canaries looking to avoid a sixth successive defeat on the road under Stubbs, which would represent the worst away start to a season for a Rotherham side in 95 years.
Encouraged by the displays in narrow defeats against the Terriers and Magpies, the manager believes his side are capable of springing in a surprise in Norfolk.
“We’ve certainly competed better,” he said. “If we can give the same level of performance or even better - which the team are capable of - then we give ourselves an opportunity to cause an upset.
“I don’t think anyone gives us a realistic chance of going to Carrow Road and coming away with a result. But this division has the knack of throwing up the craziest results.”
Rotherham are ready to begin interviewing as they look to appoint a new head of recruitment after the deadline for applications passed last week.
“We’ve narrowed it down,” Stubbs said. “We’ve got a shortlist of candidates we feel we can get a good appointment from.
“We’re looking to set up for seven, possibly eight, interviews and I’d expect that process to start next week. I think it will be a very quick appointment. It’s not something we want to dwell on.”