Hot-shot David Ball is hoping he has been dropped for the last time in Rotherham United’s quest for League One promotion.
The talented striker responded with a goal in the Millers’ 3-0 win at Northampton Town last weekend after being omitted from the team which slipped to a surprise 3-2 defeat at MK Dons four days earlier.
Ball played so well on his instant recall that it would be a major shock if he wasn’t selected for Saturday’s trip to Southend United, and the 28-year-old is determined to hang on to his place for the last nine games of the campaign.
“I was a little bit disappointed to be left out last Tuesday at MK,” he said. “I spoke with the gaffer. The team had sort of come away a little bit from using me to play football.
“You come out of the side and sometimes it freshens your mind and gets you back to what you’re good at. I think I showed what I’m good at at Northampton and now I want stay in the side until the end of the season.”
The summer signing suffered a frustrating start to his Rotherham career and was in and out of the team after being hit by injury, but he came good during the 14-game unbeaten run which took the Millers to fourth in the table.
Ball has scored eight goals in his last 18 outings and his display at Sixfields, as the MK setback spurred manager Paul Warne into making five changes, was the perfect reaction to being axed.
Rotherham are unlikely to crack the top two but are poised to clinch a play-off place.
“We’ve all got an end goal of wanting to get this club promoted,” Ball said. “It’a tough part of the season. The last nine games, most teams, whether they’re near the top, near the play-offs or near the bottom, have got something to play for.
“You take each game as it comes and try to beat whoever is in front of you. We go in to every game to win it, and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season.”
The Millers will have more than Southend to contend with at Roots Hall, as the Shrimpers’ sandy pitch is a notoriously difficult surface. Warne has learned from experience and will have a strategy in place.
“Whatever the conditions are, you have to set up your team to play accordingly,” the boss said. “At Shrewsbury a few weeks ago, I set up differently because the pitch was atrocious and we won.
“Naively, in December, at Bristol Rovers, where the pitch was atrocious as well, we tried to play our usual way and it didn’t work.”