Rotherham United: Frecklington and Blackstock boost Millers ahead of crucial Cardiff City clash as signing search goes on

Lee Frecklington
Lee Frecklington

One, barring a last-minute hitch, is a certain starter, the other is likely to make his first appearance in the squad.

Whether they play or sit on the bench, Lee Frecklington and Dexter Blackstock couldn’t have timed their returns better as Rotherham United prepare for their most important game of the season so far.

Midfielder Frecks will captain the Millers in their Championship clash at home to bottom club Cardiff City on Saturday. Striker Dexter Blackstock should be available, having spent the 18 days since his arrival on a three-year deal working on his fitness.

“He’s a very good addition to the group,” said manager Alan Stubbs of his skipper who has made substitute appearances in the last two games after limping out of the opening-day draw with Wolves a calf injury.

“He gives us an energy, a drive. He’s a player who receives the ball, who picks up second balls and looks to take the fight to the opposition. At times, we’ve missed an element of that.”

Thirty-year-old Blackstock, who has spent most of his career in the second tier, could make his debut off the bench.

Alan Stubbs

Alan Stubbs

“He has trained this week and we have looked to step it up a little bit,” Stubbs said. “As long as there is no reaction today or tomorrow, then he will come into the squad for the weekend.

“It is a shot in the arm for us in terms of his experience. He is a character. He will bring out the best in other players,and he will set the standards in the group.”

Saturday is a big clash for the Millers, with their manager looking for a reaction after last week’s 4-2 defeat at Blackburn Rovers left them one point and one place above the drop zone.

Win and, potentially, Rotherham could climb as high as 18th. Lose and the pressure would really be on Stubbs and his side after only nine league games.

Darnell Fisher

Darnell Fisher

Blackstock is finally ready for action after joining the club as a free agent following his departure from Nottingham Forest.

“He was never going to come in and be available in a few days’ time,” Stubbs said. “He missed probably three or four weeks of pre-season with Forest. He started pre-season but then had a little bit of tendonitis which prevented him from training, then the transfer window was getting closer to ending and he wasn’t necessarily doing a lot of training.

“We knew we were going to have to play catch-up with him in terms of fitness. There have been no injury setbacks. It’s just been about conditioning.

“He had a little reaction just to the volume of training last week. He just had a couple of days’ rest to let it settle down. It has done. He’s been training this week. From what he’s done up to now, there has been no adverse reaction.”

Frecklington comes in and loan midfielder Tom Adeyemi, unable to play against his parent club, drops out, while right-back Darnell Fisher is back after a one-match ban and will replace Stephen Kelly who has a thigh problem.

Stubbs is contemplating other changes after some disappointing individual performances in the setback at Ewood Park.

“It is always in the back of your mind because you can’t advocate people making mistakes for the goals we have conceded,” said the manager.

“If there are changes I don’t think anyone will have anything to complain about. We are looking for responses and I certainly expect a response. Whatever team goes out on Saturday it will be capable of getting three points.”

Rotherham have shipped 14 goals in four successive defeats on the road but are unbeaten in the league at New York Stadium.

There is unlikely to be a new signing before this weekend’s showdown, but the Millers are still seeking a left-back among the free agents looking for a new club.

“It is not easy,” Stubbs said. “Some players are still left out there but more often than not they are available for a reason and we have to be mindful of that.

“If there is someone we think can significantly improve the position we are looking at, then we will definitely be interested,

“We have only one left-back and that’s why we have looked at one. If something happened to Joe (Mattock) we wouldn’t have a recognised left-back.

“It will be longer term than the weekend. We are looking and the search goes on.”

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