Rotherham United: Towell or Palmer? Millers boss Warne may have to choose
Rotherham United midfielder Richie Towell could hand his manager a selection dilemma after tests on his knee complaint revealed no serious problem.
Towell pulled up in training and missed last weekend’s 2-0 home win over AFC Wimbledon, allowing new boy Matt Palmer to make his Millers debut.
With Towell tipped to be fit for Saturday’s clash of the League One play-off contenders at Scunthorpe United, boss Paul Warne may have to decide between the two.
Palmer, a six-figure signing from Burton Albion in the January transfer window, impressed in his first outing, but Towell has been an important figure in Rotherham’s climb to fifth in the table.
“Richie felt his knee so he went off for a scan,” said Warne after his side had stretched their unbeaten run to 10 matches by seeing off Wimbledon.
“We got the results back and hopefully he should be able to train for part of next week. There is no damage to his knee. I expect him to be available for Scunthorpe, definitely.”
Towell first felt his knee last Tuesday, received treatment on the same day and on Wednesday, then trained fully on Thursday. However, the joint troubled him on Friday, forcing him out of the squad.
The 25-year-old still made his presence felt on matchday, and Warne loves the attitude of a player he described as “desperate to win, deperate to play”.
“Richie was in the changing room before the game, at half-time and after the game,” the manager revealed. “He was here, there and everywhere. I’m surprised he didn’t want initials on his kit. He was like another coach in there.”
Saturday’s shut-out was the Millers’ third successive clean sheet. They have become much harder to scorer against since Semi Ajayi and captain Richard Wood were paired together at the heart of the defence.
Warne is also pleased with the contributions of goalkeeper Marek Rodak and full-backs Josh Emmanuel and Joe Mattock.
“Semi and Woody are pretty colossal,” he said. “Semi is virtually unplayable at the moment. They win most of their headers. Joe had another good game. Josh still gives me heart attacks but had a good game.
“My proudest point of the match - and it’s a strange one because I used to be a forward - was when Marek came and punched near the end. I always want him to do that.
“It doesn’t half help the back four when the keeper comes and takes the pressure off like that. Teams aren’t going to come here and just let us tickle them. I’m proud how we ‘ugged’ out a 2-0 win.”
If Rotherham draw or win at Glanford Park, where they will be backed by a sold-out 2,100 away following, they will equal the 11-game sequence without a defeat which marked then-manager Neil Warnock’s Championship survival miracle in 2016.
“They’re a close group,” said Warne. “That gives me a lot of pride. I try to bring in people who will get on with each other. I’m not saying they’re the best players in the league, but they might just be the best bunch. Collectively, when they’re in song, they’re pretty hard to play against.”