Luke Hyam has played less than an hour for Rotherham United yet manager Neil Redfearn can already see Premier League potential in his latest loan signing.
The Ipswich Town midfielder is in line for his first start tonight when the Millers face Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park looking for the point that would lift them out of the Championship drop zone.
After 10 months out with a knee injury, the 24-year-old made his return to competitive action as an 82-minute substitute in Rotherham’s 3-0 win over Bristol City and then shone for his new club when he came on in the 57th minute of last week’s 2-1 defeat against Wolves.
“We’re lucky to have him because he’s a talented boy,” Redfearn said. “The more we go on, the more he’ll feature. I thought he was outstanding against Wolves. I think he is capable of going on and playing in the Premier League.”
Hyam, combative, full of running, good on the ball and scheduled to stay at AESSEAL New York Stadium until January, has been blooded gently by the Millers after talks between Redfearn and Town boss Mick McCarthy.
“Luke has come to play, and he’s featured in both games so far, albeit off the bench,” Redfearn added. “That was in the thinking with regards to my agreement with Mick.
“Obviously, he’s had a bad injury and has had to come through his rehab. We’ve got him right at the end of his rehab when he was maybe looking to go back into the Ipswich team. For us, it’s good. We’ve sort of broke him in a little bit. He’s had bits and bats of games.”
Hyam was snapped up by Rotherham on the final day of the loan window last month.
His chance could come tonight as the Millers are likely to be without attacker Danny Ward, who limped off against Wolves, and may opt for one up front and a five-man midfield against a side who have won three and drawn three of their last six matches.
“Luke’s trained every day since he’s come in,” said Redfearn. “He looks fit and he looks strong. He’s champing at the bit to play. He’s somebody who could go and start. He’s a player who’s got ability.
“It might well be if we’re struggling for strikers then we’ve got to play a bit differently. Obviously, Luke then comes into the thinking. He’s a good person to have around at this moment for us.”
Another player Redfearn is delighted to have at his disposal is Kirk Broadfoot. The Rotherham boss has been thwarted by injuries in his bid to put a settled back four together, but his frustration has been tempered by the form of the Scottish centre-half who fought his way back into the side three matches ago.
“I think he’s been outstanding,” said Redfearn. “I think he was probably our best player against Wolves. The more it went on, the more he grew into the game. He’s come in and shown what a good player he is, and that’s what you want players to do. You want them to show they can’t be left out. Then they get the shirt and it’s up to other people then to get in front of them.
“If you can get that healthy competition, you start going in the right direction. He has been our main player in defence.”
Left-back Joe Mattock is expected to feature tonight after a hamstring problem, although this evening’s game could come too soon for fellow defender Stephen Kelly.
Kelly is close to fitness after a calf strain but Redfearn, with one eye on next Tuesday’s clash at Huddersfield Town, won’t take unecessary risks with the Republic of Ireland international.
“Danny and Stephen are doubtful for Blackburn,” Redfearn confirmed. “But Joe Mattock has trained all week and having him available again is a big boost for us.”
Striker Leon Best, who serves the final part of his three-match ban tonight, played in a behind-closed-doors game against Doncaster Rovers in midweek and scored in a 3-2 Millers win.