Rotherham United: Millers boss Steve Evans hails classy Kari Arnason

Kari Arnason celebrates his goal. Picture: Paul Wickson
Kari Arnason celebrates his goal. Picture: Paul Wickson

Rotherham United manager Steve Evans’ big gamble at the weekend involved handing a debut to a loan teenager in a crucial Championship derby.

But he knew there was little risk involved in his second major decision last Saturday, handing a different role to one of his Millers stalwarts.

As 18-year-old Farrend Rawson was impressing everybody in his first professional start, at Huddersfield Town, fellow centre-half Kari Arnason moved into midfield and turned in a man-of-the-match performance in Rotherham’s 2-0 win.

“We all know the quality Kari possesses,” Evans said.

“He was simply immense for us. He was a constant danger going forward, scored the first goal, created the second and used his positional sense to cut out the supply to (Town striker) James Vaughan who had caused he problems at New York Stadium back in December.

“Kari plays on the edge and if he makes the odd error as a result at the back it can be magnified.

“But in midfield, particularly with the right defenders behind him, like he had on Saturday, he can play with more freedom.”

Arnason, a veteran of Rotherham’s back-to-back promotion campaigns, put the Millers in front in the 44th minute and helped set up Conor Sammon for the second goal on 60 minutes.

The Icelandic international last played in midfield in August when he lost nothing in comparison to Swansea City’s Premier League stars in a 1-0 Capital One Cup defeat.

Saturday’s ictory moved Rotherham up to 20th place and opened up a nine-point gap between them and the bottom three.

Evans has revealed how Tony Stewart reacted when he told the Millers chairman of his plan for Rawson.

Evans had decided to give the Derby County youngster an instant debut at the John Smith’s Stadium even though he would be meeting his new teammates for the first time on the coach on the way to the game.

“I get fantastic support from the chairman, but I must admit he did fall off his chair a bit when I told him I wanted to bring an 18-year-old kid in and pitch him straight in for his debut,” the Rotherham boss confessed.

“He said ‘That’s tremendous.How many games has he played?’ I started waffling and he said ‘Is that none?’ I said ‘That’s none, Chairman’.”

Farrend was a key performer, to the delight of Evans who now has a selection poser on his hands for Saturday’s home clash against Wigan Athletic with skipper Craig Morgan expected be available after recovering from a twisted knee.

“I’m so pleased for Faz, but it doesn’t mean he’ll start next week,” Evans said. “We’ll have our captain back.

“Even my assistant manager, Paul Raynor, and assistant coach Paul Warne were nervous about my selection, but both hugged me when we got back to the dressing room.”

Attacker Danny Ward is a doubt for Saturday after missing out against old club Huddersfield with a foot injury, but midfielder Paul Green is available after being rested last Saturday as he recovered from the effects of a knock suffered against Millwall.