Rotherham United boss Steve Evans can’t wait to see the new, improved Lewis Buxton after the international break.
The Millers manager was pleased with his right-back’s contribution anyway before the fortnight’s rest from Championship action.
And the 31-year-old should be flying after using the window to hone his fitness after missing a large chunk of pre-season with a calf injury.
“Lewis has been outstanding, but he’s been catching up in terms of his general fitness because he was doing a lot of gym work and not so much out on the field,” Evans said.
The former Sheffield Wednesday defender, one of 15 summer signings made by Evans, was at fault for a penalty scored by Fulham in the Millers’ last outing, on August 29, but has otherwise made a favourable impression at his new club.
Evans swooped when he was surprisingly allowed to leave Hillsborough when his contract expired at the end of last season.
The Owls later signed former AESSEAL New York Stadium loan star Jack Hunt on a season-long deal from Crystal Palace to fill their right-back berth.
“Lewis has been fantastic,” the Rotherham boss said. “You can understand why Sheffield Wednesday fans scratched their heads when he was released.
“But, listen, we don’t make the decisions for them, do we? They make their own decisions. And probably they knew at that time they were going to sign Jack Hunt so I’ve got a degree of understanding.”
Meanwhile, Richie Smallwood has revealed that Evans has called on his players to up their standards ahead of the club’s return to action at Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
The Millers are at the foot of the Championship table, having lost four of their opening five league matches
“His message is just ‘we’ve got to improve, we’ve got to be better’,” the midfielder said.
“I know we’ve had chances, but at the end of the day we’ve not been winning, so we need to something to change that, to try to get us out of where we are and moving up the league.”
Full-backs Joe Mattock and Frazer Richardson made their returns from injury in the Millers reserves’ 5-0 home win over Gateshead yesterday afternoon.
Left-back Mattock and right-back Richardson were named in a starting line-up which also included loan teenager Farrend Rawson at centre-half.