Rotherham United: Millers have character to climb, says Matt Derbyshire

Matt Derbyshire is denied against Preston

Matt Derbyshire is denied against Preston

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Striker Matt Derbyshire has dismissed the detractors who say Rotherham United face a season of struggle in the Championship.

The Millers picked up their first point of the campaign on Tuesday with a 0-0 draw at home to unbeaten Preston North End and the forward believes the club have the character to start climbing the table.

“People on the outside can say what they want,” the 29-year-old said. “It’s going to be like that because we haven’t spent a hell of a lot of money and haven’t brought massive players in.

“But what we have got in the team is desire and the will to win every game.”

Manager Steve Evans has brought in 12 summer recruits, many with considerable Championship experience, but only one - midfielder Joe Newell - has cost a fee.

Derbyshire says the fact he and his teammates were disappointed to only draw against Preston after defeats in their opening two league matches shows the ambition in the Millers camp

“The lads in the dressing room all feel down,” he said. “It’s a point and you’ve got to take a positive from it, but we’re gutted we didn’t get all three.”

Derbyshire hailed fellow striker Jonson Clarke-Harris for the impact he made as a 56th-minute substitute, and was joined in his praise by boss Evans.

Clarke-Harris was a menace in the air and down the flanks, almost helping the Millers to find a winner.

“Jonson Clarke-Harris came on and did absolutely fantastically for the team,” said Derbyshire. “He’s been dying to get a game and he’s done well when he’s come on.”

Evans revealed that the 21-year-old had been so desperate to play after failing to make the squad for the opening games of the season that he’d been knocking on his office door every day.

“Jonson has done great when he came on. He’d looked great in training for the last three days,” Evans said. “It’s amazing, isn’t it? Last week, he didn’t look a footballer. I said to him before the game that I was going to put him back on the bench because his performances deserved it, and then he did well when he came on.

“He knew on Monday that Danny Ward was struggling, so Jono came for his daily chat and looked me in the eye and said he wanted an opportunity.

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“I said to him that his training performances had not only been noticed by me but noticed by the staff and therefore he would be on the bench.

“Possibly, with the benefit of hindsight, I might have put him on earlier, but when I did put him on he made a real impact, and that’s all you can ask for with your substitutes. If he’d scored it would have been ever better, but he made a good impact.”

Meanwhile, Derbyshire says he is happy to continue as a lone striker if that’s what Evans wants, having performed the role against Preston and in the unlucky 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest threee days earlier.

“It isn’t my game, to be on my own up front. But I played there against Forest and we played really well,” he said. “I’m sure the Gaffer thought we could try to do that against Preston as well. We should have won the game at Forest. I’ll never grumble. I’ll always try my hardest, put a shift in and do what I can to try to win.

“Whether I have a partner is the manager’s decision. I’ll never go against what the manager says. It’s down to him what team he wants to put out and that’s it.”