The player Steve Evans believes became a forgotten man at Sheffield Wednesday is ready to re-ignite his Championship career with Rotherham United.
Right-back Lewis Buxton is in contention for a first Millers league start against Nottingham Forest tomorrow after recovering from a calf problem and saying how much he likes life with his new club.
Evans has made sure the 31-year-old, who spent much of last season injured with the Owls, has felted wanted despite picking up a calf problem after his June arrival which sidelined him until Tuesday’s Capital One Cup win over Cambridge United.
The Millers manager said: “I think Lewis felt when he was injured at Sheffield Wednesday that nobody wanted to know him and he was forgotten about.
“When they’re injured, that probably makes players depressed more than anything else in their life. They can’t go and play and be part of what they love to do. It’s easy to go down a track.
“If no-one is pulling you back and getting you fit and re-focusing you and continually telling you why you’re working hard to get fit, then it’s easy to go the other way.
“It’s taken us the best part of eight weeks to get him as fit as he is now. Lewis is fantastic. He’s incredibly fit now,”
Buxton, who joined Rotherham after being released by the Owls, said: “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been good.
“They won’t stand for anyone not pulling their weight. At some clubs, people get away with that. That’s not going to happen here. That’s made clear to everyone as soon as they come.
“It’s a good, positive place. Everyone works hard and pulls together. It’s a terrific group of lads.
“Hopefully I’ll play a lot of games this season. I want to play as many as possible because I missed quite a bit of last season and the previous season.”
Evans pinpointed another former Owl, winger Michail Antonio, as the player the Millers have to watch at the City Ground against Forest.
I think he’s got better at Forest,” he said. “Dare I say it, he’s playing with better players than perhaps he was for a couple of seasons at Wednesday.
“He was always the one player, if you watched Wednesday, who could turn a game on its head. He’s just got the sheer strength, brutality and pace that kills defenders and midfield players. He just leaves them in his wake. I think he’s a top player.
West Brom made a move for the 25-year-old in pre-season, and Evans added: “Listen, clubs in the Premier League don’t come and bid £4 million and £5m for you if you’ve not got a hell of a lot of ability. His abilities are his power and strength and, of course, he gets a goal.”
Left-back Joe Mattock will be available for selection if he comes through training today.
Meanwhile, the Millers, who are still waiting to hear whether a Premier League club will sanction a loan deal for one of their young players, are considering temporary exits for players of their own.
“Maybe one or two will go out,” Evans revealed. “We’ve not decided who yet, but maybe one or two. If they’re not getting game time, they may have to go out and get some.”
Rotherham have been drawn at home to top-flight Norwich City in the Capital One Cup second round, with the tie likely to be played on Tuesday August 25.
Evans, who had hoped to land a Premier League side at home, said: “We have to concentrate on what’s really important, which is going down to the City Ground on Saturday to play Nottingham Forest.”