Rotherham United: Warne's verdict as Millers new boys Palmer and Lavery make debuts
Matt Palmer has been ordered to carry on shooting despite the new boy's big miss on his Rotherham United debut.
The midfielder made an impressive first appearance for the play-off-chasing Millers’ in the 2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon, marring his display only by firing wide of an empty net in the second half.
Manager Paul Warne, forced to pitch his January signing from Burton Albion straight into action when Richie Towell suffered a knee injury in training, is urging the 22-year-old to keep backing his attacking instincts.
“It was probably a week too early for Matty, if I am honest,” said Warne after watching his side climb to fifth place in League One and stretch their unbeaten run to 10 matches. “I like them (new recruits) to get used to our training regime and all that.
“I’ve told him to come here and play forward. I want him to make mistakes because the best players do. I don’t want my midfielders to always go backwards and sideways. I want them to take risks; get in the box and try to get yourself a goal.
“I like to think that people can see why I brought him to the club. He’s always passing forward. I was pleased with him.”
Another debutant to catch the eye as Rotherham made it a maximum nine points from three successive home games was Caolan Lavery, brought in on loan from South Yorkshire neighbours Sheffield United.
The striker came on after 67 minutes when Michael Smith, who had scored the opening goal, departed with a facial injury and helped set up David Ball’s match-clinching header in stoppage time.
“Lavs is a little bit away from match-fitness but you can see why I brought him here as well,” Warne said.
Targetman Smith, who has two goals in two starts after moving to AESSEAL New York Stadium from Bury last month, was forced off because of blood seeping from a nose injury sustained before half-time.
He should be fine for Saturday’s top-six clash at Scunthorpe United where the Millers will be backed by a sold-out 2,100 away following.
“Smudge just couldn’t stop bleeding, could he?” said Warne. “He went through about six blood shirts, eight pairs of shorts and 10 pairs of socks. We had to take him off because we kept going down to 10 men.
“I’m really chuffed for him. We’re doing a lot of work with him on the training ground, which he fully embraces. He’s got a lot more to give.
“He’s already realised if he has one touch and gives the ball away, he’s in trouble. He’s got some really good touches and leads the line quite well with Bally.”
In their previous two home encounters, Rotherham had overrun play-off rivals Portsmouth and Bradford City. They flew out of the blocks against Wimbledon and took a 14th-minute lead, but the visitors then provided a sterner test than either Pompey or the Bantams.
“I thought Wimbledon would be the hardest of the three home games,” Warne said. “They have immense experience throughout the team.
“They’re a big side and, you could see at the end, with every substitution I made, we got smaller. But the lads defended really well.
“I thought we were excellent for the first 20 minutes. Every time they got the ball, we pressed them and caused them a problem.”